Terri and Al Paramito ’65 EE are recent donors to the Open Doors scholarship. We had the opportunity to talk with them about why they felt compelled to make this particular gift.
Penn State Abington (PSA): What motivated you to contribute to the Open Doors Scholarship?
Al Paramito: When we learned about Penn State’s Open Doors scholarship, we were immediately interested in trying to help students complete their degrees. We were both first generation college students and understand the difficulties they might be facing. We recently went to a briefing by President Barron here in Florida, at which he spoke about the hands-on efforts the University takes to make sure students finish college. Hearing the actual work that is being done by the Open Doors program confirmed our initial thoughts that this is an incredibly worthwhile program.
Terri Paramito: The statistics for success between having a college degree and not having a college degree are so overwhelming. Knowing we could help students graduate really motivated us as well. As people who benefitted from going to college, the statistics are a stark reminder of the importance of a degree.
PSA: What was particularly attractive about this scholarship program?
Terri: The quality of a Penn State degree and ability to graduate from Abington with a Penn State degree is extremely valuable, especially to first generation students. And then you see the opportunity the University gives you to triple the impact of your donation, and it just makes sense.
If you are lucky enough to be able to fund it, it’s impossible not to do it. If you can help even one student finish college, what it does for that student’s future is immeasurable. And the example she or he sets multiplies. They graduate and set an example for a sister, a brother, and cousins that a college degree, especially a Penn State degree from Abington, is achievable.
Al: The scholarship makes college an achievable goal. It’s no longer an impossible dream. It’s a Penn State degree of the same quality, no matter which campus you attend.
PSA: Do you typically make your philanthropic decisions together?
Al: Yes, for the majority of our giving. Together, we support smaller organizations that have a more direct impact.
Terri: I support several organizations that are women-focused.
Al: For example, we support a nursing home in West Philadelphia — the people who actually do the hard work. There are no layers. Open Doors is similar, in that it’s more direct and small scale, and we are helping someone directly.
PSA: How did your education at Abington prepare you for your career and allow you to give back?
Al: I started at Abington, and it gave me the ability to go to college when I was 18. I got a great education. It’s time to give back to Abington, and the Open Doors scholarship rang a bell. We have a legacy scholarship arranged in our will, but it’s a far off thing. The Open Doors scholarship has immediate impact.