FA L L / W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 1 3 A SCHOLARSHIP DESIGNED TO HELP FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS PURSUE THEIR PASSIONS An unframed piece made by Eugene Andolsek (pictured in the cap he always wore). He would start as many as five works in an evening. An ink blotter, pens and compass were his tools. AS A FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE APPLICANT, Burrell Area High School senior Leandra Nealer had a long list of items to decipher on her own. The burden of SATs, ACTs, the Common Application, FAFSA, PHEAA, essays, deadlines, loans and scholarship applications, plus five Advanced Placement classes, left her feeling overwhelmed. “Before I started applying to colleges and for scholarships, I never saw being a first-generation college student as a disadvantage. I didn’t really think about it at all,” said Nealer. “It’s odd how you don’t even see yourself as something until you check a box on an application. Then you realize that quality makes you eligible for something.” Using The Pittsburgh Foundation’s online scholarship search, Nealer discovered that she qualified for the Eugene J. Andolsek Scholarship from The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County (CFWC). The scholarship was created in memory of Andolsek, who never received the college education he was promised by his father. Following his high school graduation, Eugene’s father told him to attend business school instead of pursuing his own passion at college. “Eugene dreamed of going to college, but his father shattered that and it lived with him forever,” said first cousin Carole Beam, who established the fund in his name. “Supporting students who want to be the first in their family to go to college and pursue their passion like Eugene wanted is a great way to honor his memory.” This year, Nealer became the third person to receive the Eugene J. Andolsek Scholarship since the fund was established in 2009. “The other scholarships I’ve received are strictly for academics, which makes the Andolsek scholarship unique because I’m being recognized for something else that has made my experience planning for college a little different,” Nealer says. “This scholarship is a recognition of a lot of hard work.” Because most high school students have at least one parent who has attended college, they can tap into family experience to get past the com- plexity of the application process. However, first-generation students like Nealer don’t have that same resource. Instead, their resources include guidance counselors, teachers and themselves. A LEGACY OF OPPORTUNITY