PLATTSBURGH - Tough economic times almost cost Holly Farrell her college education.
"When I was applying to colleges, my father had just lost his job to downsizing," said Farrell, a junior education major at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh. "As the economy got worse, and my father spent seven months without a job; college seemed like a big expense, even with reduced SUNY prices."
The bright spot on the Cadyville native's horizon came with her acceptance letter to SUNY Plattsburgh. Farrell was the recipient of a UFirst Federal Credit Union Scholarship, part of the college's North Country Scholarship Program. The fund connects local businesses and philanthropists with students from Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties who are attending SUNY Plattsburgh.
Businesses and individuals such as UFirst, Georgia-Pacific, Northern Insuring, Graymont Materials, Lockrows, and the Giltz, Knapp and Johnson families have contributed leadership gifts of $2,500 or more and have scholarships in their name. Other businesses and friends of the college have also contributed to the program, and helped North Country students afford to go to college in their own backyard.
"When I got my acceptance letter and saw the scholarship offer, it felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off me and my family," Farrell said. "It is sometimes hard to put into words the magnitude of what this scholarship has done for me, but it is immensely appreciated, and I will never forget those who chose to help me in my time of need while at SUNY Plattsburgh."
"Even in tough economic times, our businesses are supporting our students," said Faith Osborne Long, director of development at SUNY Plattsburgh. "This is an investment in our community. The assistance given to students by local businesses and friends helps keep those students here both while they attend school and after they graduate. It prevents brain drain as those students set down roots and become future leaders of our society."
Farrell agreed and wants to use her degree to make a difference to future generations. She decided to go into childhood education to have a positive influence on the lives of her students, but she also stressed that their experiences will impact hers as well. The UFirst Scholarship will make this possible, she said, but she doesn't want to see it end there.
"I am hoping to make such a difference in someone else's life if the opportunity presents itself to pay back the favor that was so graciously given to me," she said.
For more information about the North Country Scholarship Program, contact the Plattsburgh College Foundation at 564-2090.