GC Alums, Graduating Bucknell University Community College Scholars Cap Off an Extraordinary Achievement

Jacob and Josiah Hannah, brothers from Davis, W.Va., overcame a lot of obstacles in order to earn bachelor’s degrees at Bucknell University’s recent Commencement.  While both Hannah brothers earned G.E.D.s, they were homeschooled, which made demonstrating what they'd learned difficult when applying to college, and much of the documentation they had was lost when a forest fire destroyed their family farmhouse. With six other siblings to feed, their parents didn't have the means to help out with tuition. And the rural community in southern West Virginia where they were raised — population 87 — is a place where higher education isn't valued as highly as a traditional career in coal mining, logging or other forms of "honest" labor.
The Hannah brothers, graduated from Garrett College in May 2015 and were awarded the prestigious and extremely competitive Two-Year Transfer Scholarship to Bucknell University following their graduation from Garrett College. As part of the transfer scholarship requirements, Jacob and Josiah participated in the rigorous Bucknell Summer Scholars Program in 2014 on the Bucknell campus. While at Garrett, the Hannah brothers were also members of the Garrett College Omicron Chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

"We never saw college as something that was too good for us necessarily, because our parents raised us to believe that we could do anything we set our minds to," said Josiah. But still, "it would've been laughable to hear that we'd end up at Bucknell University, a very academically prestigious institution. We never would have considered ourselves as heading in that direction."

What convinced the Hannah brothers to consider a place like Bucknell — in spite of the roadblocks standing in their way — is a program that has offered students the means to a four-year degree for more than a decade.

The Bucknell Community College Scholars program is designed for high-achieving, low- to moderate income community college students who aim to earn their associate’s degree and wish to take their education further. Garrett College is proud to be one of five community college partners of this program.

Each year, the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program (BCCSP) invites around 30 outstanding students from five partner community colleges to attend a six-week summer session at Bucknell. The students live on campus, take two classes and attend workshops where they build skills they'll need to thrive at a four-year residential university. After completing their associate's degrees in community college, the students become eligible to apply to transfer to Bucknell, where each year between 15 and 20 enroll and receive full scholarships to complete a bachelor's in two years.

"These students bring to campus a set of experiences and life circumstances that often stand in stark contrast to many traditional Bucknellians," said Robert Midkiff, Bucknell's associate provost, registrar, dean of graduate studies and summer session and a longtime adviser for BCCSP students. "This program changes campus, but more importantly, it changes the lives of these students and their families. These are folks whose dreams were really big, but who often didn't have the resources. This program gave them the resources."

Those resources include ongoing mentorship from BCCSP staff, who confer with summer program students as they progress in their final year of community college and are available to help once they arrive at Bucknell, as well as ties to fellow community college scholars that the program aims to cultivate.

The Hannah brothers will be returning home to West Virginia, where each plans to put his degree in managing for sustainability to work in different ways to serve their community. Josiah plans to work for nonprofit group home on a 380-acre horse farm in Maryland that serves children placed in foster homes, to pursue a master's degree, and to hopefully replicate the farm's success by starting a similar nonprofit in his native state. Jacob intends to start a nonprofit of his own to help those affected by joblessness, drug addiction and poor health.

"Our reason for going to college is that we knew that we wanted to help somehow," said Jacob, "to share the joy that we had naturally. By going to community college and then coming here, we got a better idea of how to use a business structure to help people back home."

Josiah agreed. "One thing that we've learned about sustainable community development is that it takes someone from an area who knows, and who's embedded, to really take ownership of any movement or operation to change an area," he said. "For it to take hold, the community has to change from the inside out."

For more information about the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program in addition to other transfer opportunities available at Garrett College, contact Ashley Ruby, Coordinator of the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program, at 301-387-3733 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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