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Fulfilling a Promise — A Pittsburgh Promise

Students from Robert Morris University outnumbered those from any other school at a ceremony in Pittsburgh city hall last week recognizing the first Pittsburgh Promise students to graduate from college.

Seniors Sarah Walsh and Ally Vignone and December graduate Briana Smith were given official proclamations by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl as he declared March 15 “Pittsburgh Promise Day.”  The scholarship fund, founded in 2007, provides college scholarships of $40,000 to qualifying graduates of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Smith, now a business systems analyst at PNC, was invited to speak on behalf of the students at the event. “The Pittsburgh Promise upheld its promise to me,” she said. “I can only hope to give back to the community so that the promise can be upheld for future generations.”

“The Pittsburgh Promise is a true testament to our dedication to reform our schools and focus on our future by investing our young people,” Ravenstahl said.

More than 3,000 students are receiving a higher education as a result of the Pittsburgh Promise, which receives most of its funding from foundations and corporate donors. Students in the program will be invited to a special post-college career fair later this spring.

“We represented RMU pretty well,” said Vignone, a math major who plans to become a teacher after graduation. The day after the ceremony, she flew to Belize for six weeks of student teaching at a high school there.

“All of us worked so hard, and we’re so appreciative that Pittsburgh Promise is taking the time to make sure we are successful,” said Walsh, who is looking for work in public relations or marketing. She spent her fall semester in Germany, taking online classes and working at a preschool at a U.S. Air Force base.

In addition to the three RMU students, the mayor also presented proclamations to two students from the University of Pittsburgh and one student each from Point Park, Duquesne, Carnegie Mellon, Chatham, Clarion, Edinboro, California, and Lincoln universities.

Written by Mark Houser

Click to view photos from the graduation ceremony

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