Donors support Penn State New Kensington students

| Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Some local donors have made sure that worthy Penn State New Kensington students will continue to get a quality education.

In the past few months, the Upper Burrell college has received three different commitments to start scholarship funds of at least $50,000.

“These are Trustee Scholarships,” said Donna Speer, PSNK's director of development. “It's sponsored by the board of trustees.”

Speer said Penn State recently announced that it will double the normal amount the campus can draw on a scholarship.

“You can draw 5 percent a year from the fund for scholarships,” Speer said. “The university usually matches that, but now they're going to double it.”

Speer said the university draws the endowment's market value, about 4.5 percent.

“So, you can give a student about 14 percent,” she said.

On an endowment of $50,000, instead of receiving a $5,000 scholarship, it allows a student to get $7,000.

Speer said that those who make the donations can pay it off during five years, but still receive the university's doubled match.

For Dr. Karl Salatka and his wife, Jennifer, donating to the scholarship fund made sense.

“I think it specifically helps the community,” said Karl Salatka, a retired surgeon and Lower Burrell resident. “In general, I think it helps the country.

“Penn State has offered the opportunity to match funds to our funds,” he said. “So, we get a multiplier effect.

“That's more money brought in to support local students, the campus and our community.”

Speer said those who donate scholarships can put one provision on how their money is given out. The Salatkas are asking that their scholarship be awarded to students who come from underprivileged backgrounds.

Dr. Jim and Lynn Ramage of Manor Township are requesting that their scholarship be given to a student who majors in a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) program.

“It changed my whole life by getting an education,” said Jim Ramage, a retired veterinarian. “I never thought that (going to college) would occur.

“My father died at 53, my mother was a waitress till she was 75,” said Ramage, a 1963 graduate of the school. “I worked in a mill after the service, and decided it wasn't the way I wanted to spend my life. They had the G.I. Bill, and decided I wanted to use it.

“Applying to Penn State, they had scholarship money for me and other people like me who couldn't afford the whole cost.”

Ramage said it was important for him and his wife, who sent both of their children to Penn State, to help other students.

“I have friends that will hold off and leave (money) in their will, but I want to be able to see it be put to use,” he said. “I'd rather enjoy the student's efforts.”

Alum gives back

Ray Mastre, the head of the school's Advisory Board, has drawn money from various places to raise as much as possible for his scholarship.

A 2004 graduate from Penn State New Kensington, with a degree in information science technology, Mastre works for PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PWC.

“Whatever I donated, PWC matches,” said Mastre, 32, from his hotel room in Barcelona, where he is on business. “I also got a lot of donations from Advisory Board members.

“Add that to the match by the university, and we were able to generate a lot of money.”Mastre said his endowment will total about $80,000.

“I went to Penn State New Kensington as a student, when it went from two-year to four-year institution,” said the Plum native, who calls New York City home.

Mastre said it's important to him to help students finish their degrees at PSNK, so his scholarship is designed to go to students who are entering their junior or senior year.

“I wasn't in a position to move away and live on campus,” he said. “I wanted to commute somewhere that could give me a quality education.”

Mastre said scholarships played a major role in his attending Penn State.

“I come from a single-parent home and wasn't in a position to afford to go to school,” he said. “I was a caddy at Oakmont Country Club and was awarded the Stanley Druckenmiller Foundation Scholarship.”

Druckenmiller is the founder of Duquesne Capital. His net worth is more than $2.8 billion, according to Forbes Magazine.

“(The scholarship) gave me the means to attend Penn State,” he said. “I met Stanley Druckenmiller a couple times and he told me he was glad to help me, but encouraged me to pass it on.

“So, I'm trying to do that.”

R.A. Monti is a freelance reporter for Trib Total Media.

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