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Scholarship recipient paying it forward

| Monday, Dec. 26, 2005

More than 50 years ago, T. Jerome Holleran won a scholarship of about $600 a year to attend what is now Carnegie Mellon University.

There were three strings attached. Holleran had to keep his grades up, mow his benefactor's lawn to earn some extra spending money and someday repay the gift through his own philanthropy.

Holleran, 69, who grew up in Shadyside, is paying back that debt and then some.

He has given Carnegie Mellon $1 million for a capital campaign that university officials have told faculty could raise roughly $1 billion.

"The major motivation for me is I got scholarship aid way, way back," Holleran said. "I've been the recipient for that kind of aid, so it's natural for me to pay that gift back."

He credits his education at CMU in part for his success in business. Holleran, of Reading, Berks County, is chairman of Precision Medical Products Inc., in Denver, Lancaster County.

He is giving $20,000 for each scholarship. He hopes another donor matches that with $30,000. The $50,000 could generate about $2,500 a year for each needy student.

"I love leverage, even in philanthropy," Holleran said.

As the winner of one of the scholarships, Douglas M. Hilling II, 20, of Morgantown, W.Va., appreciates Holleran's generosity. His parents are not able to pay for his education, so the sophomore works part-time and takes out loans.

Hilling describes Holleran as outgoing and dedicated.

"When you're around him, he makes you smile," Hilling said. "As soon as he walked in the door, you know he's a good person."

Besides helping to pay for the students' education, Holleran gives the scholarship winners another $5,000 a year to spend on other worthy causes on campus.

They're thinking of holding a student activity, such as a dance, charging $5 and giving the proceeds to charity, Hilling said.

"It all circles back," he said.

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