Finding new ways to get students invested in the support of their own education, the Department of Communication at PSU has embraced a concept of generosity that will have a ripple effect for years to come.
This spring, the department awarded the university's first "Pay it Forward" scholarship, with last spring's graduating class pooling their money to create a scholarship for a fellow student. Seniors this spring nominated a list of potential recipients from the junior class, with faculty members voting on the winner - a cycle that will continue each year.
"We were worrying about the recession cutting into scholarship funds, and we felt that if we want people to give, we need to start at home," said Dr. Cynthia Allan, chairwoman of the department. "We're hoping it will be a way for students to understand the importance of giving, and how departments depend on those contributions more and more."
It's a need soon-to-be senior Jessica Grazier understands. She was named the first recipient of the scholarship and will receive the money next fall to help with her tuition and expenses. In addition, communication faculty funded the first Faculty Select Scholarship, awarding it to junior Kayan Nash.
"I think it's pretty amazing that students were willing to give for another student's education," said Grazier, whose emphasis is photography. "It's an honor that others see potential in me. It makes me want to return the favor and help out other students, too."
For Allan, it's inspiring to see this kind of support from within.
"What's important is the number of people pulling together. It's amazing how many of them said, 'When can I give my money?'" she said. "This seemed like a good way for us to operationalize the ideals this department works on."