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Shaler teens earn Seton Hill University scholarships

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Submitted | Pine Creek Journal
Shaler Area High School seniors Clint McElheny and Brandon McNeill, posing with Jonathan Gibson, Seton Hill admissions counselor, were named Seton Scholars earlier this month and presented with checks for a full scholarship to Seton Hill University.

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By Bethany Hofstetter
Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

When Shaler Area High School seniors Clint McElheny and Brandon McNeill were called out of class earlier this month, neither had any idea the result would decide their future.

McElheny and McNeill walked into a classroom filled with high school administrators, their families and Jon Gibson, admissions counselor at Seton Hill University, who named them Seton Scholars and presented them with large commemorative checks symbolic of the awarded scholarship that will cover their full tuition for four years at Seton Hill.

Seton Scholars are awarded to incoming freshmen who excel academically and submit a letter of recommendation and essay on why they will succeed at the school. McElheny and McNeill are two of 12 scholarship recipients named each year, two in each of the university's academic divisions, based on the students' selected majors.

This is the first year since the Seton Scholars program started that more than one Seton Scholar was named from the same high school, according to Gibson.

McElheny, 17, is an honors student and a defender on the Shaler Area Titan soccer team.

Seton Hill was the first college he visited during his junior year of high school, but it wasn't until January that he started to look at it closely after staying with the university soccer team on campus.

McElheny had been accepted to the honors college and applied for the Seton Scholars program but hadn't given it a second thought until he saw the check presented to him for more than $116,000.

“I was really shocked,” McElheny said about the scholarship award. “I didn't expect to get it because I'm not the best writer.”

“It's an honor. I never expected it to be me, but I'm glad it is.”

The week turned out to be a defining turn of events that solidified McElheny's plans for the next four years. Just days before receiving the scholarship check, McElheny officially signed with the Seton Hill Griffins soccer team.

“It's been an exciting week,” he said.

McElheny plans to study criminal justice with the hopes of pursuing a career in homeland security, a police K9 unit or narcotics investigation following graduation.

McNeill, 18, had all but resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't accepted to the Seton Scholars program after not hearing from the university by the end-of-February deadline until he walked in to the room full of family, high school administrators and the Seton Hill admissions counselor holding a check with his name on it.

“I was pretty shocked,” McNeill said. “It took a little to sink in.”

The AP student carries a cumulative grade-point average of more than 4.0 and plays on the Titan boys tennis team. McNeill plans to study history and might pursue a teaching position or law school after graduation and said the Seton Scholar program will help him achieve his goals.

“It's definitely an honor and a blessing, and I feel extremely lucky,” McNeill said of the scholarship. “I feel I put in a lot of hard work these last 12 years, and I feel it has paid off. I hope to continue to work hard in college and in the rest I do.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or

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