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Lincoln Endowed Scholarships Support Local Students

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Lincoln Learning is proud to recognize JoAnne Sharpless and Dante Pelino, recipients of the Penn State Lincoln Learning Solutions Endowed Scholarship.

To create the scholarship, Lincoln Learning Solutions granted Penn State Beaver a gift of $50,000, payable over a five-year span. The university matched the gift, creating scholarship opportunities to support students in STEM programming at Penn State Beaver and those students' hard work and academic success.

Our first recipient, JoAnne Sharpless, is a graduate of Freedom Area High School. Currently a sophomore at Penn State Beaver, she is majoring in psychology and minoring in criminal justice. After college, Sharpless said she would like to use her degree either by practicing art therapy at Children's Hospital or becoming a school counselor. She’s also considering a career in corrections.

“Art therapy is a way for children to showcase their emotions," Sharpless explained. "It’s a less invasive way of connecting with them."

Her father’s career as an architect helped Sharpless develop her love for art.

“He was always drawing,” Sharpless said. “Art has always been a way for me to express myself.”

Sharpless said that she chose Penn State Beaver because of its small size, as being able to connect with her professors is important to her.

Outside of class, Sharpless is part of THON, Penn State’s student-run philanthropy organization committed to enhancing the lives of children and families impacted by childhood cancer. She also works in the university’s Continuing Education Department and helps with summer camps.

Sharpless said the Lincoln Learning Endowed Scholarship is important to her because the pandemic hit her family hard financially. Her mother works in a school cafeteria, and when COVID-19 closed schools, the family was uncertain of when her mother would return to work.

“We just really focused on my dad working and staying healthy,” Sharpless said.

While Sharpless’s mother is back to work now, money is still tight. The scholarship funds will help to defray the cost of her tuition.

“I’m very thankful you chose me,” Sharpless said.

Daniel Pinchot, director of enrollment management at Penn State Beaver, recognized the challenges that students and their families sometimes face when it comes to paying college tuition.

“Students and their families have to make sacrifices to be here," Pinchot said. "Sometimes, those are not enough. It’s not enough to bring a student to Penn State. We want them to get their degree. We want them to be successful.”

“Many students are struggling to finish (college)," said Jen Cushman, chancellor of Penn State Beaver. “These scholarships really help with that.”

Dante Pelino, our second scholarship recipient, graduated from Crestview High School in Columbiana, Ohio. He is currently a junior in Penn State Beaver's Information Technology — Cybersecurity program.

Pelino said he chose Penn State for many reasons.

“Penn State has a good reputation,” Pelino said, “and there are a lot of good opportunities with a Penn State degree.” He added that both his father and his brother are Penn State alums.

Pelino said that his love for computers started early. After gaming as a child, he continued to advance his learning. Now, he’s creating encryption code that none of his classmates can hack.

“For a project in my Cybersecurity class, I started with the idea of a Caesar cipher, but I altered it [in ways too technical for the author to recount here]. Pelino said, "No one was able to decrypt my code.”

Like Sharpless, Pelino is using his scholarship to help with the cost of tuition. Coupled with Pelino's savings and his ability to live with his grandparents off-campus, the Lincoln Endowed Scholarship will allow him to graduate debt-free.