BC3 celebrates scholarship winners, recognizes 2 alumni
BUTLER TWP — Some never get the opportunity to thank the hands that helped them reach success, but Butler County Community College scholarship recipients got to do just that Saturday afternoon, Oct. 1.
Students sat alongside their scholarship donors at the Oak Hills Celebration in Founders Hall on campus, where the BC3 Education Foundation recognized Distinguished Alumni award winners Michelle Edinger and Gregg Hartung.
Nearly 60 students and parents and 34 donors gathered to hear the speakers and celebrate the upcoming school year.
According to Megan Coval, executive director of the foundation, 148 privately funded scholarships and more than $280,000 were awarded to students through the organization.
“Sitting here in this room is the past, present and future of BC3,” she said. “$280,000 in scholarships is a record amount for us.”
Olivia Collins, a sophomore business administration major, was recognized as a two-time winner of a presidential scholarship. The honor resulted in her speaking to the luncheon attendees.
“It’s a big honor,” she said. “I hope people take away that this is gratitude for the donors. Lots at BC3 wouldn’t be possible without them. I think this is a great opportunity to thank them.”
Coval said the event provides a chance for donors and students to build relationships as well as recognize and learn from alumni experiences.
“The (Distinguished Alumni) award recognizes alumni who’ve gone on to be successful and are committed to service of the community,” she said.
Because last year’s event was postponed due to COVID-19, Edinger and Hartung were recognized as the 2021 and 2022 award winners by BC3 President Nick Neupauer.
Edinger, who earned and associate degree in marketing management from BC3 in 1984, said she worked for more than 16 years with the foundation following her graduation.
“The biggest thing I got (from BC3) was courage to believe in myself,” she said. “I’m a first-generation college graduate, no one had suggested I was smart enough to go to college.”
In her role, Edinger increased the number of named scholarships at the college from 52 in 2009 to 138 in 2020, and created the BC3 alumni program, the BC3 Distinguished Alumni Awards and Oak Hills event before her retirement in November 2020.
When considering 2021 Distinguished Alumni recipients, she said she didn’t see herself as an option.
“When we’re going selections, we always talk about the ‘wow factor.’ I thought, ‘I don’t have the wow factor, doctors receive this award,’” she said. “For me, the scholarship donors are the wow factor, because students of BC3 will forever benefit from their generosity. When I found out I won, I thought my ‘wow factor’ was helping the donors make the students’ dreams come true.”
Hartung, mayor of Mars Borough since 2014, said he was shocked he would be recognized as the 2022 winner.
“I looked back at my grades and I said, ‘really?’ The grades I cared about were in my communication and voice and diction classes. I gravitated toward those classes when I was (at BC3), and even my government classes helped me when I became mayor.”
After graduating from the college in 1980 with a degree in general studies, Hartung went on to 37 years in radio broadcasting and production. He also has volunteered with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Mister Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive, and has served as an elder in his church working as a missionary in Africa.
Hartung said following a car accident while attending BC3, he returned to academics at a sixth-grade reading level due to a head injury. He attributes the education he received at the institution to his recovery.
“Education helps you not only when you’re facing regular life, but also puts opportunities in front of you to recover things you (have) lost,” he said. “Book work and subject matter are important, but learn from other faculty and students about how to accomplish things together. That’s what you’ll experience out in the world, it’s how to make communities better.”