Spring on the York College campus

Anything But Typical

Taslim Hossain smiles at the camera from his seat on a bench in the campus quad.

Eric Milne ’93 is no ordinary donor, according to students who have benefited from his generosity, which supports the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program (YCCOSP). Then again, the students selected to benefit from his gifts to York College are by no means typical students.

“Eric Milne is an amazing person,” said Taslim Hossain ’23. “He’s not just a donor who puts in money and supports you financially. He wants to get to know and understand you, to have a personal connection. He wants to know about my successes as well as my struggles, and how he can help.”

Hossain is a senior Civil Engineering and Chemistry major. Through dual enrollment and Advanced Placement (AP) courses at William Penn Senior High School in York, he arrived at York College with 46 credits, enough to classify him as a sophomore. His first intended major was Civil Engineering, but he was also very passionate about Chemistry. Hossain worked with his advisor and faculty in Chemistry to come up with a course chart and a plan that will allow him to major in both and graduate in the summer of 2023. 

“Eric Milne is very genuine, and not what I was expecting,” said Zachary Claghorn ’21. “He turned out to be someone I could sit down and chat with, an everyday man who wanted to do something good for people.”

Claghorn came to York College to major in Music Education. At William Penn, he was a percussionist, pianist, vocalist, songwriter, and rapper. He participated in orchestra, jazz band, and musical theatre. “I was practicing music anywhere from three to five hours a day at York College,” Claghorn said. “I realized that’s what it took to be a professional musician, and I did not like that.” He switched his major to Political Science, because he wanted to study something that would “enable me to help people and solve problems.” During his junior year, he decided to enroll in the Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program, which provided Claghorn with an opportunity to take graduate courses as an undergraduate student. “I took all the classes I could as an undergrad, and next year I will take graduate classes and earn my master’s in five years.”

More About Milne and His Gifts

Milne established The Eric David Milne ’93 Scholarship Endowment Fund in March 2004. His scholarship supports YCCOSP, which provides William Penn graduates with a full-tuition scholarship as well as room and board to York College. 

In addition, Milne has established a fund to cover the cost of books for students participating in YCCOSP. To be considered for the Milne Scholars Program, they must write the best essay on a topic addressing a societal issue, using the U.S. Constitution in a reasoned defense of their argument. Past recipients then gather to select the best essay.

A lifelong resident of York and a graduate of William Penn and York College, Milne’s goal is to continue to support YCCOSP students indefinitely through his endowment. His parents were also active in the community. His mother was in real estate and his father taught at Central York School District for 35 years and was president of the York City Council.

It is important to Milne that his essay requirement continues. By engaging his recipients, Milne plans to create a solid group of former students who are able to serve on the selection committee and choose recipients who embody his ideals after he is no longer able to do so. He wants “to train the next generation to carry on the important work of encouraging students to explore and understand our government through critical thinking.”

Hossain wrote about freedom of the press in his essay. “I went in deep and got very invested in the topic,” he said. “I shared my paper with many editors, including those at the Writing Center and even my middle school teacher. I wanted to write the best essay, and it wasn’t just about the competition. Eric saw the passion and work that I put into it, and I was selected.”

“Past recipients read and score the essays,” said Claghorn. “Authors remain anonymous, so there’s no bias involved. It’s fairly easy for the group to reach a consensus, because the students who end up winning are ones that give it a real good effort.”

Not having to pay for books is a huge benefit for Hossain. “As a double major, I have to purchase both Engineering and Chemistry books. YCCOSP covers so much—tuition, room and board—but not books, which can be expensive,” he said. 

Thankful 

Both Hossain and Claghorn speak highly of Milne and his generosity to YCCOSP students like them, who often grow up without the resources to even consider college. 

“The Milne Scholarship and YCCOSP provided me with an opportunity to focus on my education,” said Hossain. “Coming from the city, you may not know what you are capable of. If someone asked me as an elementary student, I’d never have believed I’d be a double major at York College. This financial support has allowed me to live on campus and get more involved in the community and make connections to students, organizations, and faculty.” 

“My family provided me with the things I needed to survive, but I never had the guidance necessary to get to the next level,” said Claghorn. “All of that guidance came from my teachers at William Penn, the YCCOSP program, and Eric Milne. If it weren’t for these people who came into my life and invested in me, I’d still be at square one. I am very proud of where I am, and I don’t take any of it for granted.”

As Milne says, “To borrow from JFK, don’t ask what you can do for yourself, ask what you can do for your community. You might be surprised to find that doing something nice for your community gives you a better feeling than doing something nice for yourself.”   M.D.