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A Message from President Armbrister

July 2015

“It’s a Team Effort.”

To the Girard College Family,

In mid-May, we sent a video to all of our constituents. The title of the video was “We're Going Places,” and it featured some of our students confidently laying out their plans to go to college, to cure cancer and to make better lives for themselves and for others.

(Didn’t get this e-mail? Make sure we have your correct and current e-mail address. Contact Teresa Coffey in the Advancement Office.)

Those of us who work at Girard College watched that video with pride. It is, after all, the reason we are here … to fulfill Stephen Girard’s vision of life-changing opportunity and to help our students realize their dreams.

As we celebrate our victories, we also recognize that they are the result of team effort.

Two particular stories from the the 2014-15 school year come to my mind when I think of the team work evident in our community every day.

One is the spectacular news that senior Brandon Dixon was awarded a Gates Millennium Scholarship– a scholarship that guarantees funding for his bachelor’s degree, his master’s degree and his doctorate. When interviewed about being part of a select group of awardees (only 1.75% of applicants were successful in attaining this particular scholarship), Brandon (below, left) immediately credited others. He credited his teachers for preparing him academically, his RAs for imparting life lessons, his mother for her unwavering belief in his future, one particular classmate who provided valuable competition throughout the years, and his college counselor for encouraging him through a long and difficult GMS application process. Brandon recognized that his success was a team victory, and he readily expressed his gratitude.

The second story came to my attention through a graduation photo posted on Facebook. The photo showed Lena Pinder – a Girard parent – graduating from community college just weeks prior to her daughter’s graduation from Girard College.  Although this story was not reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is an important one and represents the all-encompassing power of our mission.

(Center: Lena at her own graduation in May, with daughters Melasia ’15 and Sudahn ’16; Right: Lena at Girard graduation last month with Melasia.)

One of our messages to parents and guardians who enroll their children in Girard College is that they should take advantage of the opportunity that Girard College offers them. They are encouraged to improve the lives of the entire family by getting a better job or going back to school. Lena Pinder did just that. After being laid off in 2013, she entered Camden County Community College on a grant she earned as a displaced worker. She majored in Addictions Counseling and graduated with a 4.0 average (please note the Phi Theta Kappa symbol on her sash). She has enrolled in Drexel’s Saturday Scholars program to earn her bachelor’s degree.

This was certainly a team effort. Lena’s children had “study time” with their mother on weekends, her co-workers encouraged her, and the Girard College community educated her daughters while she attended classes.

“I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the hard work of my daughters, Melasia and Sudahn,” said Lena. “In June, Melasia graduated from Girard with a 4.0, and both girls have been and continue to be my inspiration to continue my education.”

So, congratulations to Lena, Melasia, Brandon and to ALL of the 2015 graduates!

(Here's a list of colleges in which our recent graduates have been accepted.)

Please keep in touch; let us know about your next adventures and victories.

Hail Girard!

Clarence D. Armbrister

Girard College is pleased to hold memberships in several key educational organizations:




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