North Country businesses and individuals are helping to keep some of the area’s best and brightest right here at home.
They are doing so by contributing to the North Country Scholarship Program — a fund that makes attendance at SUNY Plattsburgh an even more affordable option for students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties.
|Journalism major and North Country Scholarship recipient Matt Hamilton addresses donors and other recipients at a scholarship breakfast this fall.|
Businesses like UFirst Federal Credit Union, Graymont Materials, Northern Insuring and Lockrows Inc., and individuals such as Ray and Lola Johnson have been contributing regularly to the cause, either by sponsoring an entire scholarship of $2,500 per year or by contributing to a general North Country Scholarship fund from which additional awards are given to high-achieving students from the region. This academic year alone, 19 students received nearly $43,000 through this program.
“These students have close ties to the local community and can become our future North Country leaders,” said Faith Long, director of development at SUNY Plattsburgh. “The businesses and leaders who support this scholarship program are investing in our region's economic future.”
For Matt Hamilton, the scholarship from Chartwells made a huge difference in his ability to concentrate on his studies, participate in internships and get hands-on journalism experience at Cardinal Points. He originally looked to Ithaca College for a journalism program, but the financial aid package they offered couldn’t compare to what SUNY Plattsburgh was prepared to offer.
“During the past year, I have realized that Plattsburgh’s journalism department really did afford me some of the best opportunities I could find,” Hamilton said.
He is now in his second semester as an editor at Cardinal Points and works part time at the Press-Republican as a news and sports reporter and a page designer.
“I can safely say I made the right choice in coming to Plattsburgh because I am on my way to higher quality internships and attaining my goals in the news business,” he said.
Hamilton and other scholarship recipients had the opportunity to thank the program sponsors at a reception this fall.
“You are part of the reason why I’m here right now,” Hamilton told some of the 90 students, businesses and guests in attendance. “I am excited about a career in journalism, but the glamour of the news business doesn’t include large starting salaries for journalists. This scholarship … means that I can be confident about graduating as a Plattsburgh Cardinal without an overwhelming burden of debt.”
Linda Bourgeois, CEO of UFirst Federal Credit Union, and a director of the Plattsburgh College Foundation, said the credit union is involved because “we realize a college education is a financial endeavor for individuals and/or families that can be quite challenging.
“We were one of the first to participate in the scholarship program, and we’re very proud of that,” Bourgeois said. “We’re a strong proponent of financial education and financial health, and we see how a solid education can contribute to both.”
Bourgeois said the local aspect of the scholarship was attractive to the credit union.
“We’re a community credit union,” she said.
Randy Giltz, vice president of marketing at Northern Insuring — sponsors of the program since its inception — said that the local aspect of the program gives additional benefits to both the students and donors.
“You get to give back and see where your money is going,” Giltz said. “It’s personal. These kids are real, and you meet them at the ground level and get to find out who they are.
“There’s a lot of value in that,” he said.
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Michelle Marasch Ouellette
Director of Public Relations and Publications
Phone: (518) 564-3095
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