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Marshall Scholarship gives York College students a chance to make a comeback

Aubrey Greer smiles for a professional headshot
Aubrey Greer '22 is a recipient of the Marshall Scholarship at York College. She was interviewed for this story, along with Ian Walsh ’21 and Julianne Grap ’22.

Students who once struggled academically, but complete York College’s Back on Track program have an opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief with the Marshall Scholarship, which covers the cost of one year of their education.

Aubrey Greer ’22 was tired. She had spent most of the day applying for jobs and was scheduling back-to-back phone interviews in hopes that she could find work. When COVID-19 hit Pennsylvania and closed college campuses, Greer moved back home to West Philadelphia. Things looked bleak: her mom was furloughed, and Greer lost the two jobs she had.

“I didn’t want to be a financial burden to my mom,” she says. “I needed to find a source of income. I didn’t know how I could keep going to school without a job.”

In between phone interviews, her phone buzzed. It was Greer’s advisor at York College of Pennsylvania, calling to tell the Criminology student that she could rest a little easier: she was going to receive the Marshall Scholarship.

“I was very grateful, but I didn’t know right away what it meant,” Greer says. When she realized the scholarship would cover the cost of an entire year of her education, she ran to tell her mom. They both cried.

A chance to make a comeback

Scholarships can be hard to come by for the “average” college student. For students who struggle academically, they are almost unheard of. But, that’s what Keith Marshall ’77 wanted to fix. When he created the Marshall Scholarship at York College, he wasn’t looking for ways to reward the “A” student; rather, he wanted to give a hand to the “D” student who was making an effort to do better.

When Greer first came to York College, she struggled to make the transition from high school to college academics. She took on too many activities and put her classes on the back burner. Her grades plummeted. “When I got my first ‘F’ I knew I wasn’t the person I wanted to be on paper,” she says. “I knew I could do better. I just needed some guidance.”

Greer went through York College’s Back on Track program, which helps students who are struggling academically to bring their grades up. By working closely with an advisor, students are given an opportunity to make college work for them and to succeed through their academic experience.

‘Given a gift’

The story was similar for Ian Walsh ’21, who came to York College as an undeclared student. He eventually decided to pursue Sociology, but it took some time for him to find his footing. “I didn’t have enough focus,” he says. “I wanted to find my group of friends at college, and getting connected became more of a priority than my classes.”

It led to a conversation with Walsh and his dad, and if Walsh couldn’t bring his grades up, he knew he’d have to leave York College. After completing the Back on Track program, he made Dean’s List. With a new focus on excelling in college, Walsh’s advisor nominated him for the Marshall Scholarship.

When he got the call that he’d be receiving the award, his jaw dropped. Now, he says, his parents don’t have to carry such a financial burden with multiple children pursuing higher education. He also was able to meet Keith and Linda Marshall at a scholarship dinner last year.

“It’s really motivated me to take this opportunity to do better,” he says. “I have been given a gift, and I don’t want that to be wasted.”

Creating a legacy

Julianne Grap ’22 never struggled in high school. But, when she came to York College, she wasn’t just taking challenging courses—she was learning to be an adult. She had a roommate and was in a new community. She had to budget and figure out how to study and balance a schedule. Soon, the weight of it all could be seen in her grades. 

In the Back on Track program, she found success. She learned the skills she needed to go from being a teenager to an adult, to taking on more challenges, and handling the responsibility with grace.

She was working as a camp counselor over the summer when she had several missed calls from York College. She wasn’t worried about it and thought she’d get back to it later, until the College called her mom. “They told me to call right away,” she said. “I had no idea they would possibly be calling me about a scholarship.”

But, beyond the financial assistance, Grap, who was the first student to receive the scholarship, found mentors in the Marshalls. They helped her develop a network and coached her on how to be a better student. “Success is never very linear, and my journey at York College has been far from it,” she says. “I know they were there to support me.”

York College supports students as they work to turn career dreams into reality. Some 99% of new, full-time students receive financial assistance or scholarships. A variety of scholarships and grants are available, based on both merit and financial need.