Presidential Scholars Receive a World of Opportunity

More than 150 students have been honored with a Presidential Scholarship over the past 14 years, supported in great part by the generosity of members and benefactors of the University’s President’s Business Council (PBC).

Senior Presidential Scholars attend the PBC 14th Annual Award Dinner.
Senior Presidential Scholars attend the PBC 14th Annual Award Dinner.

Ralph Petagna Jr. ’16 of Robbinsville, New Jersey, remembers the day the envelope came.

Inside was the letter that changed everything.

On that day four years ago, Petagna was offered a full-tuition Presidential Scholarship to The University of Scranton, and financial concerns related to pursuing his dream of a college education were wiped away. “It was incredible,” said Petagna, now an accounting major and member of the Business Leadership Honors Program. “I remember being in the kitchen with my parents, who also went to Scranton, and we were all so excited. To see that I was recognized in this way was a really great feeling.”

More than 150 students have been honored with a Presidential Scholarship over the past 14 years, supported in great part by the generosity of members and benefactors of the University’s President’s Business Council (PBC). In addition to providing networking opportunities for students, alumni and friends, proceeds from the annual PBC Dinner support the Presidential Scholarship Endowment Fund, providing merit-based awards each year to students based on academic talent, leadership potential and character. The Annual Award Dinner has generated more than $12 million since its inception in 2001.

“When I was still deciding among a lot of schools, scholarships weighed heavily,” said recipient Krista Ziegler ’16 of Old Bethpage, New York, an exercise science major and member of the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program. “The Presidential Scholarship opened my eyes to the benefit of a Scranton education. There are so many opportunities here, and I’m so grateful for what the University and the PBC have provided me.”

Recipients over the years have immersed themselves in the University community, becoming leaders in academic, athletic, social and service areas of student life.

“Student life is definitely at the heart of the school,” Ziegler said. “The amount of opportunities we have is mind-blowing.”

Both Ziegler and Petagna, who represented the current class of scholars at this year’s PBC award dinner, have elected to continue pursuing graduate programs in their respective fields at Scranton.

PBC member Frank Pearn ’83, P’16, said it is important to him to ensure that the Scranton community stays strong, and giving students the opportunity to attend and experience the University is a great way for him to do that. “So many people meet at Scranton, marry, and send their children there. Many also have aunts and uncles, and other relatives, who have attended the University. We all had such a great experience, and you feel that bond over the years. As you get older and have time and opportunities to give back, you want to make sure that feeling never goes away,” he said.

Pearn said students like Ziegler and Petagna show the profound impact of the work of the PBC and the generosity of its supporters. “It is incredible to give those students the opportunity to attend the University on a full scholarship. It makes you feel really good — you can see how your money and your time directly pay off.”

Tom O’Brien ’86, P’19, past PBC chair, agreed. “It is really a phenomenal feeling,” he said. “One of the best parts is seeing those who attended the University now buying tickets to the award dinner years later. They are seeing the importance of being involved with the PBC after what it gave to them, and now they want to give back.”

Presidential Scholars: Where They Are Now?

cummings.pngKathleen Sprows Cummings, Ph.D.’93 , G’93

Associate Professor, University of Notre Dame

"Scranton opened up a whole new intellectual world to me. In every class I teach here at the University of Notre Dame, I aspire to measure up to the high standards of my Scranton professors."

esbin.pngBrittany Esbin ’12
Global Humanitarian, Operations Analyst Genzyme

"At Genzyme, I am helping to provide life saving drug infusions to people all over the globe. The Presidential Scholarship provided me the opportunity to pursue my dreams."

clark.pngJohn Clark ’16
Accounting, Finance & Chemistry Major

"My Scranton education enriched my values and integrity as I began my career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Philadelphia."

moline.pngDr. Michael Molineux ’92
Faculty, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Chief of Hospital Medicine,
MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

"The pre-med curriculum at Scranton was rigorous and prepared me for the transition to medical school. The values learned during my undergraduate studies continue to guide my work as a physician."

tibbitts.pngMatt Tibbitts ’14
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Malaysia

"When applying to the Fulbright program, I was influenced by the common Jesuit phrase, 'Go forth and set the world on fire.' This encouraged me to leave the United States for the first time in life and embark on this life-changing journey in Malaysia."

desanto.pngEmily A. DeSanto ’13, G’14
Experience Associate
Alternative Asset Management Assurance
PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York

"My Scranton experience provided me with the knowledge, communication and collaboration skills necessary to do well. It also provided me with a supportive network of professionals who continue to guide me in my career choices."

henry.pngOlivia Henry ’13
Theology Teacher
Cristo Rey Jesuit College Prep High School
Ed.M., Harvard University Graduate School of Education

"As a second generation Presidential Scholar, I always felt like my scholarship connected me to my mom and to the Scranton legacy in a special way. Having my scholarship allowed me to get my degree without debt, which then made pursuing my graduate studies more financially feasible."

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