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The Lycoming College community has helped Anne Marie DiSante '06 in several ways. While she was a student, the chemistry department challenged her to work hard and achieve her goals not only in the classroom, but in life as well. Then, after graduation, the connections DiSante made at the college served to kick-start her job search.
"My contacts with Lycoming alumni helped me get my first job out of school," she said. "I wouldn't have the career I do today without Lycoming."
DiSante is an analytical chemist in drug product research and development at Merck & Co., Inc., and also serves on the Lycoming College Alumni Association Executive Board. She continues to support the college because she knows the value of monetary assistance from the other side of the coin. Without financial aid, she wouldn't have been able to become a Lycoming student in the first place, and she hopes to help current students in a similar position.
"I want to help, even in a small way, other students who need help, so they can attend Lycoming and have the experiences I had," she said.
While DiSante enjoys assisting the college in any way she can, she also appreciates the fact that Lycoming allows donors to make contributions to specific departments or programs.
"I like having that option, because it gives donors the opportunity to allocate funds to an area that was special to them," she said.
DiSante loves how tight-knit the campus community is and also appreciates the opportunities that a Lycoming education provides.
"You can be anyone you want to be and get involved with anything you want to be involved in," she said. "You can take classes in any discipline and still graduate in four years, you can build houses across the country, you can travel the world with sports teams, participate in community service projects or even study abroad. Anything you want to do is a possibility at Lycoming."
Jean Wool, executive administrative assistant to the vice president for student life at Lycoming College, loves that the college centers on one thing: the students. Spending each day at the institution gives her the chance not only to work with tomorrow's leaders, but to establish enduring relationships with them as well.
"The college is very important to me in that it provides me the opportunity to work with young people," she said. "If you work at Lycoming, you have to stay young at heart!"
Wool takes pride in donating to the college because she believes that she's making an impact not only on the school, but on the students' lives, too.
"Supporting the college gives me a sense of ownership in our future and pride that I have helped students in some small way," Wool said. "Also, it is a way of thanking the college for affording me this incredible opportunity."
Wool said that a big benefit for students at Lycoming is how integrated the faculty, staff and the study body are. She has invited students from other institutions to visit Lycoming and said that they were amazed to see the president participating in the campus carnival with students and faculty members playing sports with students on the quad.
"The family atmosphere at Lycoming is, I believe, out of the ordinary and very special," Wool said.
Several years ago, Wool's Lycoming family became crucial for her when her husband, Jack, a big fan of the college, passed away.
"Lycoming students helped me through that difficult period," Wool said. "I was so fortunate to have many former and current students contact or visit me during that time to offer their love and support.
"Every day I spend at Lycoming is a positive, personal experience. I could fill a book with my Lycoming experiences. I have been blessed to have known so many extraordinary students who have turned into extraordinary friends."
For Tammy (Rhinehart) Strayer '86, her appreciation for Lycoming College began at an early age due to her family's longstanding relationship with the college. Pennington Lounge in the Academic Center is named after her great uncle, Fred Pennington. Several of her cousins attended Lycoming, as did both of her siblings. Her gratitude for the school only grew when she became a student herself.
"Once I attended Lycoming, its importance took on a whole new meaning," said Strayer, who teaches at Elmwood Elementary School in the Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Area School District. "I established enduring friendships and gained the education necessary to become a first grade teacher."
Strayer, who has financially supported the college for more than 15 years, is motivated to contribute because she wants to pay forward what she received as a student. She began attending Lycoming on a Trustee Scholarship and said that it was always her plan to return the favor.
The Strayer family's connection with Lycoming continued as two of her children, Jared '12 and Wesley '13, decided to attend.
"When I found out that my oldest son had decided to attend Lycoming, I was excited for him and the rest of the family to be regular members of Lyco life again," Strayer said. "The same feelings were repeated when my middle son decided to follow his brother a year later."
She was happy for the renewed associations with Lycoming and quickly made it central to her social activities again. Participating in more events gave her the chance to make contact with old friends, meet new ones and to develop relationships with other parents of Lycoming students.
She also thinks that Lycoming's storied reputation as a liberal arts and sciences institution and its size make the college stand out from other schools.
"Through all the generations, I have felt like a person at Lycoming and not a number."
The student group: LEAF, the Lycoming Environmental Awareness Foundation, has been committed to spreading environmental awareness and contributing to service within the community since 1998.
The mission: The goal of the club is to introduce an environmentally-friendly mindset and atmosphere on campus through activities that bring the campus community closer to nature and make everyone think more about their daily choices and how they affect the environment.
The events: Naturally, Earth Day is a big event for LEAF members, who bring in guest speakers, organize demonstrations and coordinate events for the local community. The group also sets up campus and stream clean-ups, hiking trips to areas such as Rider Park, and kayaking and rafting adventures. Each spring, LEAF is involved in “Recycle Mania,” a campus-wide competition that encourages students to be more mindful of what they toss in the trash can.
The impact: LEAF often provides services for area groups and nonprofits when they need assistance with materials, water analysis, animal surveys or correspondence. Through the last three years, LEAF has worked with the campus Sustainability Committee to assemble information for the school’s yearly Environmental Audit updates.
For club president Samantha Hewitt '14, the main goal is to improve the campus and community any way they can.
"We try to provide a better environment for the campus as well as local areas and strive for the use of sustainable resources wherever and whenever possible. Everything we do should have some sort of positive impact on everyone."
Leaf President, Samantha Hewitt '14
The student group: "Inclusion" is the key word for the Black Student Union, formed in 2005. In order to make sure that each voice is heard and that nobody is excluded, students from every cultural background are encouraged to join the organization.
The mission: To educate the Lycoming College community about the culture and history of African-Americans and about the dangers of stereotypes and prejudices.
The events: One of BSU's trademark events is Poetry Night, for which students may read original poetry or works by writers they admire. For Black History Month, members collaborate with the Black History Month Committee to plan events such as themed movie nights, fireside chat readings and the Black History Month Dinner.
The impact: Students who work with BSU learn to become leaders by organizing activities and teaching the community about cultural diversity. They also benefit from the group's close community and open discussions, which allow members to address issues they might not otherwise feel comfortable talking about.
"We are small when it comes to community presence, but we are very big on getting to know our members, creating friendships and fun experiences, and just creating a safe space to have fun with others who are culturally varied."
BSU president, Sifa Blackmon '14
The student group: LACES is the Lycoming College chapter of ACES, Advancing Communities by Educating and Serving, a nonprofit organization that benefits communities in the Dominican Republic. It was created in December 2012 and has already won the college's Student Organization of the Year and Outstanding Community Service Program awards for its alternative spring break trip.
The mission: To bring awareness to developing countries, specifically the Dominican Republic, and to aid citizens through community service.
The events: Despite being a young organization, LACES has been turning heads with events such as "The Big Switch," which gave Lycoming students the opportunity to change places with administrators and staff for a day. Group members also volunteered as a part of ACES' Zombie 5K fundraiser, which encouraged community members to do their best undead impression for a good cause.
The impact: Most LACES members take a "life-changing" journey to the Dominican Republic during May Term or as part of a community service trip.
"There are no words in any language that can express what I felt during our volunteer work in the Dominican Republic. Much of our manual labor involved distributing donations amongst various communities, building a garden for a school and gathering sand for a greenhouse construction project, all of which were physically challenging but satisfying."
Miranda Gavrila '16