Scholarships sweetened for college-bound students with help from Lehigh Valley businesswoman

The Morning Call
By Jacqueline Palochko
October 1, 2019

High school students working on associate degrees at Lehigh Carbon Community College can now receive extended financial support from Lisa Scheller, a businesswoman and potential congressional candidate.

LCCC officials and Scheller announced Tuesday a scholarship covering tuition for high schoolers in the nine Lehigh County school districts and at Tamaqua who are part of LCCC’s Early College program.

The program allows students to take college-level courses during their junior and senior years of high school, and then receive a general studies associate degree after two years while they also receive their high school diploma. That associate degree can be transferred to a four-year college to allow students to continue their studies. The program puts students on the “fast-track” for college by allowing them to save time and money.

The scholarships, starting in fall 2020, will cover tuition for the entire degree, which is valued at $3,300. It’s unknown how many scholarships will be given out. The scholarship will be available to students who show financial need by qualifying for free and reduced lunch.

The new offer expands the financial support that Scheller has already provided LCCC students. In 2014, the Lisa Jane Scheller Technology Scholarship was formed for students from Lehigh Career and Technical Institute and Carbon Career and Technical Institute. Forty students have benefited from that scholarship since 2014.

A Tamaqua native who lives in Allentown, Scheller is president and chairwoman of Silberline Manufacturing, which makes aluminum pigments.

Republican Scheller, a former Lehigh County commissioner, has hinted at a bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild. She is a steady contributor to Republican candidates and organizations. This year she gave $2,800 to U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-12th District, who had a special election in May, and $1,000 to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Federal Election Commission records show. She’s also contributed $5,000 to the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania.

Scheller said she wanted to expand the scholarship now as the Early College program gained momentum. This year, the Allentown School District joined students from Parkland, Whitehall, Tamaqua and Lehighton in the program.

“No student should have their dreams of a higher education crushed by inability to afford that education,” she said Tuesday at LCCC’s main campus in Schnecksville.

This year, 95 students are participating in the Early College program, 56 of whom come from the Allentown School District. Students and their families are typically responsible for the costs of a degree in the Early College program, although Allentown covers the costs for students to participate in LCCC’s program through a grant.

Superintendent Thomas Parker said Tuesday morning the Scheller scholarship could allow the district to expand the number of Allentown students who enroll in the Early College program.

“One of the most important things that we do in education is create opportunity and access,” he said.