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HCC students get chance to thank scholarship donors

April 24, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - The dozens of donors who contribute to scholarship funds for Hagerstown Community College students each year do so expecting no money in return, but at a donor recognition event Wednesday, student recipients said they still feel they owe a debt.

"I owe it to each and every one of these kind people to prove they were right to believe in me and that their hard-earned money was well spent," said first-year registered nursing student Valerie Repsher.

Repsher, 49, of Hancock, dreamed of attending nursing school for 30 years, but didn't know how she would pay for it or find time for the classes. She said her scholarships from the HCC Foundation, the Giannaris Family and the John M. Waltersdorf Family made it possible for her to focus on her studies as a full-time student and complete her first year with a 4.0 GPA.

"No one is asking me to pay them back, but what you have inspired me to do is pay it forward," said Repsher, who plans to give back to the community by volunteering at the Inner Faith Service Coalition in Hancock and the local hospice.

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Repsher was one of several HCC students and donors to speak at Wednesday's HCC Foundation event in the lobby of the college's Athletic Recreation and Community Center.

The event's theme was "Keeping our Students Afloat," and student scholarship recipients and donors sat at tables decorated with colorful flotation tubes and Lifesavers candies.

In some cases, students sat at the same tables as the donors who directly contributed to their educations. James Rock, 20, of Hagers- town, was seated with members of the Sheedy family of Boonsboro, who help sponsor the Sioda Family Fund scholarship.

Rock said it wasn't his first time meeting the Sheedys. Early in his education, he attended a barbecue at their house, and was amazed by the family's dedication to helping him succeed. Over the years, the family helped him pay for a laptop and to fix his car when it broke down, he said.

Without scholarships, Rock said he probably would not have been able to attend college. Now, he is graduating in May with an Associate of Arts degree in history education and plans to attend Shippensburg University in the fall.

He said his donors' generosity was an incentive to work hard and an inspiration to give back to the community.

"I've been a hard worker all my life, but this has just pushed me, having someone believe in me," Rock said.

In the past year, the HCC Foundation has awarded 339 scholarship awards for a total of $255,304, college spokeswoman Elizabeth K. Stull said. About 73 percent of HCC students receive some type of financial assistance, she said.

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