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Spring on the York College campus

Scholarships Change Lives

By by Marissa Schirk '19
Paying it Forward
Scholarships Change Lives
Ashley McManus '17, Lasmir Mitchell '19

"Someone thought I was worth something." This is how Ashley McManus '17 felt when she heard the news about her scholarship. To her, it wasn't just about the money; the award boosted her self-esteem and motivated her to help others. Lasmir Mitchell '19 (York, PA) found peace of mind when he received his scholarship. He saw a bright future taking shape because college had become a reality. Like Ashley, he was inspired to pay it forward. These two Spartans will gladly tell you how scholarships affected their lives and why they want to help others realize their own potential. Ashley received the F. T. Aquilino Memorial Scholarship and the College-funded merit-based Heritage Award, while Lasmir was awarded a full paid tuition scholarship from the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP). When grateful recipients such as Ashley and Lasmir feel an obligation to give back, the community also reaps rewards.

Meet Lasmir Mitchell '19

"Tables turn, bridges burn, you live and learn."

Lasmir, a former high school football player, tries to live by these words from a favorite song by rapper, Drake. It is obvious when you speak with him that life has not been easy for the Early Elementary Education student, who is homeless during school breaks due to family problems. He and his two sisters were raised by their single mom who warned him to keep out of trouble. "We had lots of hard times," he says, but he kept out of trouble. He knows from experience that when kids are trying to survive from one day to the next, they are not thinking about college. He wants to help them realize that education is the key to a better life. When he heard that he had received a scholarship, he felt a huge sense of relief, because he knew that "the next step in my life was prepared. I was going to college."

Lasmir's scholarship allowed him to go to college and not worry about how to pay for tuition. As a three-year high school varsity starter in football, as well as team captain during his junior and senior years, he received interest from Division II and III football programs. But once he was selected for a scholarship, he turned down the offers and chose to attend York College instead.

In his senior year of high school, Lasmir was able to take dual enrollment courses, which helped him transition into college. He visited different departments at York College and met with professors, which helped him decide to major in Early Elementary Education. He says his scholarship provides him "with the tools to engage and give back to my community."

He gives back to the City of York through speaking at events and volunteering. He has been a speaker at a Homeless-ness Awareness Initiative meeting, and a guest speaker at Crispus Attucks. He participated in the Big Brother Big Sister Students & Mentors Achieving Results Together (S.M.A.R.T.) Program. Lasmir has been active on campus, too. He was a Resident Assistant during the 2016-2017 school year in Susquehanna Hall. He has also joined the Student Education Association (SEA) and will be on the eboard as Representative starting in January 2018.

After graduation, Lasmir plans to be a teacher in the York City School District where he can mentor and educate students. He says that he will better understand his students' challenges because of his own tough upbringing. He hopes to make a difference in the community and for the students of York because he is "passionate about helping students reach their potential and mentoring them to be productive members of society." He currently spends 15 hours a week as an Enrichment Provider for the After School Program at Jackson K-8. Kids are provided with a snack and dinner, tutoring, arts and crafts, gym time and other enrichment activities. Through his own efforts, Lasmir obtained this paid teaching job during his freshman year after a friend recommended it to him. On top of speaking and volunteering, most of his giving back comes from working with kids through his jobs at the YWCA and the After School Program.

YCCOSP Program Director Irene Hudson knows the scholarship set him on the right path, and says, "Lasmir is a very intelligent, focused, and driven man, who is going to light up the world when he graduates. He has made a phenomenal impact on the College campus and the community. He is dedicated and his passion is education."

Without his scholarship, Lasmir would not have been able to follow his passion and pay it forward. Someone, he says thankfully, saw his potential and gave him encouragement. Now, he has the chance to help children who are struggling with some of the same challenges that he faced when he was younger. His scholarship set him on the right path, but Lasmir's dedication will take him where he wants to go.

Meet Ashley McManus '17

Ashley is also passionate about helping others. She realizes that she would not have achieved so much without scholarship assistance, and says, "When we got the award letter, it was such a surprise, and my mom and I cried we were so happy." She adds, "I never thought something like that could happen to someone like me. Someone thought I was worth something, and that really meant a lot to me." She was able to spend more time focusing on her studies and her life rather than worrying about paying off college debt. Ashley graduated with a B.S. in Behavioral Science, and currently works as an Admissions Counselor at York College where she helps potential students navigate the college admissions process.

Scholarships allowed Ashley time to fully participate in the York College experience, not just attend class. She is grateful to have been able to take advantage of the opportunities outside the classroom and to have had time to belong to various organizations, including the Sigma Delta Tau sorority. She was a Student Senator for all four years. In her junior year, she was an Orientation Leader and Vice President of Organizational Development, where she helped students create clubs. In addition, Ashley was Head Student Ambassador. In her senior year, she continued to be an Orientation Leader, an Autism Peer Mentor, and a SpartaNation Road Crew member. The money she received through the F. T. Aquilino Memorial Scholarship and from the Heritage award allowed her to study in India, China, and Costa Rica. She says that without scholarships, she would never have had these opportunities to go abroad and learn about different cultures.

The F. T Aquilino Memorial Scholarship is a memorial to Frank Aquilino '97 who was killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. When talking about how he'd like the scholarship to make an impact on students' lives, Dr. Frank Aquilino remembers his son F. T. with enormous pride. He said, "My son had a remarkable talent for making everything he did in life go from ordinary to extraordinary. I hope his memorial scholarship has that impact on the lives of each recipient."

The scholarship and the community of York College also helped Ashley cope with the loss of her friend and fellow Spartan, Samantha Wingate. She was able to take days off to be with Sam who was battling cancer at the time. Ashley and Sam were both part of the swim team in their freshman year. When they would take swim recruits around the campus, Sam told her she was annoyingly good at it and should apply to be a tour guide. Ashley became a Student Ambassador in her sophomore year due to her friend’s encouragement. Sadly, Sam passed away in the fall of 2016.

Ashley pays her scholarship forward and gives back to the community through volunteer work. She is currently trying to become certified as an online hotline volunteer for the anti-sexual violence association RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network). She says most of her current volunteering is done through the Young Alumni Council, where she works with other alumni and current students to take YCP from great to greater as well as volunteer in the York community. Her job as an Admissions Counselor for York College allows her to guide students on the process of applying to college and receiving financial aid. She says, "I landed my dream job right out of college." Having received incredible opportunities through scholarships, she is eager to show others how to achieve their potential.

The impact of scholarship support makes the difference for students to be able to become part of our community. Through the years, thousands of individuals have contributed generously to York College to establish these endowed and term funds that provide scholarships for our students. Without that support, it would be impossible for York College to offer a high-quality, private college education at an exceptionally reasonable cost. Our scholarship donors are the secret behind the success of many York College students.

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