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Maguire Scholars: A Second Family

Maguire Scholars: A Second Family
Clockwise from back left, University of Scranton assistant dean for Programs and Assessment for the College of Arts and Sciences Rebecca Haggerty, who serves as the Maguire Scholars mentor, enjoys a moment with Maguire Scholars Brian Price, Daniel McNulty, Christiana Cruz- Council and Catherine Stapf.

Scholars bond at Scranton.

When first-year student Stas Postowski arrived on The University of Scranton’s campus this fall, he already had a built-in “second family” waiting for him. The Philadelphia native is one of eight students — four freshmen and four sophomores — who are navigating the academic year together as the University’s Maguire College Scholars.

“I absolutely love the community here, in all honesty. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s like a second home,” said Postowski. “We are a family, and the Maguire Scholars are like a subset of that family. We have a great connection, and we all work really hard and appreciate that we are here.”

The Maguire Foundation, founded by philanthropists James J. and Frances Maguire, provides chosen graduates from 41 Philadelphia-area high schools (many of which are Catholic schools) with “last-dollar” financial support for four years of college at one of its partner institutions. A graduate of then-Saint Joseph’s College (now University), James Maguire never forgot the impact of his Jesuit education. The chair emeritus and founder of Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corporation credits Saint Joseph’s with instilling the values that have carried him through life. Ensuring that others have the same educational opportunities became one of his major philanthropic priorities.

More than 350 Maguire Scholars have enrolled at 28 partner schools since its inception five years ago. This fall was the second time Scranton welcomed Maguire Scholars on campus. Postowski and the three other students who make up the first-year cohort were chosen from a competitive field of approximately 100 initial applicants, said Rebecca Haggerty, assistant dean for programs and assessment for the College of Arts and Sciences, who also serves as the Maguire Scholars mentor.

“It was so hard to choose,” Haggerty said of the decisionmaking process. “I literally had a box of tissues nearby while reading the applicant essays. But once we narrow it down to four, from the moment they accept, I’m on them. I meet them, introduce them to the others, and establish that we’re going to be family.”

In addition to keeping a high GPA and performing community service together, the scholars meet regularly with Haggerty, who provides any needed advice and support.

“Mrs. Haggerty is a godsend,” Postowski said of his mentor, who also teaches at the University. “I tell all my friends about her — even the ones who aren’t Maguire Scholars — and they go visit her all the time.”

Haggerty said the cohort’s bond improves the student experience.

“One of the most powerful things about the Maguire Scholars is that they come as a group,” she said. “All of the students live in a Living Learning Community. The students are all connected. What’s nice is that a lot of them know each other from elementary or high school, or were in (extracurricular activities) together.”

Amy Holdsman, executive director of the Maguire Foundation, said that Maguire Scholars not only demonstrate financial need but are academic and extracurricular standouts.

“I think education is the great equalizer. The scholarship creates opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access,” said Holdsman. “Graduation is our goal, and beyond that, becoming a productive citizen who gives back to the community.”

Holdsman said the organization will track its scholarship recipients over time and is confident that the students will make their mark after graduation.

Meanwhile, Postowski sings the University’s praises, as well as the Maguire Scholars program’s praises, to anyone who will listen.

“If someone is looking at Scranton, I tell them about the scholarship and try to tell people to consider it,” he said. “It’s hard to express how much I appreciate being a Maguire Scholar. Without this scholarship, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

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