How a $250 scholarship kept Army veteran’s college dream alive

Date Published: February 02, 2018

Blaine LynnArmy veteran Blaine Lynn was worried that he might have to put his dream of a college degree on hold.

The Ruffsdale native lost his job following three surgeries and used the money from his GI Bill during the summer semester. He had taken out loans to make sure he could stay enrolled at Westmoreland County Community College, but as the fall semester was beginning, he still needed hundreds of dollars for books.

Then, just in time, he received a $250 Chevron Corporation Scholarship. What some might consider a small amount made a huge difference for Lynn.

“Your company brings a lot of relief to students all over who receive no funding whatsoever for their schooling,” Lynn wrote to Chevron. “Those students work really hard because they know it is a blessing to be able to attend school,” his email went on to say.

As a single father of 4 and 5-year-old daughters, Lynn has worked 13-hour days, taken classes at night and carried a full course load over the summer in his quest to finish his degree. He will graduate in May with an associate degree in Welding Engineering Technology.

For him, the scholarship is not all about the money.

“Words cannot describe how it makes me feel to finally receive recognition for my hard work,” Lynn wrote.

He already has a job offer in manufacturing and Lynn is considering pursuing a second degree in Machine Technology. The job will be waiting for him if he decides to continue at Westmoreland.

"Stories like Blaine’s underscore the impact Chevron and its Appalachian Partnership Initiative is having on the lives of local men and women," said David Pistner, vice president of continuing education, workforce and community development at Westmoreland. "Providing support that can bridge gaps may be all it takes to keep someone like Blaine in school and give them the tools they need to pursue the American Dream," Pistner said.  

The college was the perfect choice for Lynn because it was close to home and offered training for a hands-on career path.

"I’ve got to learn hands on, work hands on," Lynn said. “Welding allowed me to be hands on and also be creative.”

More students like Blaine will receive similar scholarships in the coming months.

Chevron Appalachia is investing $630,000 in ShaleNET education programs at Westmoreland and three other community and technical colleges. The programs are dedicated to workforce development in energy and manufacturing.

The funding includes more than $200,000 for scholarships, and $212,000 will go toward equipment to provide Westmoreland students with hands-on experience and conducting workforce forums for careers in energy and advanced manufacturing.

"Westmoreland County Community College is pleased to be a partner with Chevron in this effort and to contribute to the economic wellbeing of the region," Pistner said. 

Since 2014, Chevron has invested more than $2.1 million in ShaleNET programs at Westmoreland and other colleges.