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Penn State Smeal raises more than $27,500 for Student Emergency Fund on GivingTuesday

December 14, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Thanks to the generosity of donors, Penn State Smeal College of Business students who face unanticipated financial difficulties will have a safety net.

Smeal created its Student Emergency Fund earlier this year to help students facing an unanticipated crisis as they work to complete their degree. That may include a parent losing a job, medical expenses, an unexpected additional semester of college or myriad other events that can derail even the best laid plans to finance a college education.

On GivingTuesday, donors contributed more than $27,500 to the fund.

It will be used to support students like Hillary Espinal Vicioso, who gave her parents her college savings after their family business was forced to close at the onset of the pandemic.

“I’m fortunate to have received a scholarship this year, which goes a long way in helping me pay my living and educational expenses,” she said. “But I know how quickly circumstances can change.”

Without donor support, Vicioso said she likely would have given up on her education.

“That would have been the worst decision I could have made,” she said.

The college acknowledges that the pandemic only underscored what may be an ongoing need for some students.

“While the pandemic may have highlighted the urgent need that many of our students face, the reality is that for some, this need will exist well beyond the effects of COVID-19,” said Felisa Preciado Higgins, associate dean of undergraduate education.

The college is thankful for the generosity of those who contributed to the fund on GivingTuesday.

“For our students who are struggling right now to meet their basic needs, the impact from the Smeal Student Emergency Fund will be immeasurable,” said Michelle Houser, senior director of development and alumni relations. “We are so grateful to the alumni and friends who supported this critical need as part of our GivingTuesday effort this year.”

Penn State had a record-setting day on GivingTuesday, with more than 10,500 gifts and more than $1.25 million raised for 150 featured funds across the University.

“Every year we ask our community to show up on GivingTuesday and every year they do it with more enthusiasm than the year before,” said Jenny Daigle Benoit, Penn State’s executive director for annual giving. 

“Penn Staters are one of a kind. It’s true that together, we are Penn State, and together, we can do anything.” 

Support for the Smeal Student Emergency Fund will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

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Andy Elder
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