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— July 15, 2019

Applying Yourself

By Jodi Helmer
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A Long Island scholarship program helps students achieve their college dreams.

When twin sisters Jennifer and Carolyn Gubell applied to college in 2014, they knew pursuing a degree would be expensive.

The twins applied for several scholarships, including one offered through the Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island (HIA-LI), a nonprofit organization promoting business and economic development on Long Island.

“I applied for the scholarship because I felt that the award it offered would ease some of the finances that accompany a college education,” Jennifer Gubell recalls. “The scholarship helped me to not have to worry so much about the cost of my education so that I could just focus on what I was doing in school.”

With students amassing thousands of dollars in debt from school expenses, scholarships can provide a lifeline. HIA-LI has been offering annual $1,000 scholarships to college-bound students.

“It’s not a luxury for us to say, ‘Maybe our kids will stay here,’” HIA-LI president and CEO Terri Alessi-Miceli says, referring to Long Island. “We need to introduce them to great companies and offer these kinds of programs to entice them to stay here.”

The scholarship program, which was established more than two decades ago, is a benefit for HIA-LI member companies. Members contribute to the scholarship fund, allowing the nonprofit to distribute between 10 and 25 scholarships each June. To be eligible, parents must work for one of the 1,000-plus HIA-LI member companies and students must plan to attend college on Long Island.

Suzanne Tenn, director of exports for NaturesPlus, an HIA-LI member, hoped that a scholarship would help convince her daughter, Kailey, to attend Hofstra University instead of relocating to another city (or another state) to pursue a degree in music business.

“When I heard about the scholarship, I encouraged Kailey to apply,” Tenn recalls. “So many students can’t afford to attend college, and $1,000 is a generous amount that can help students buy a computer or books that will put them on the journey to success.”

What Matters Most

The application process to win a scholarship from HIA-LI is intense. Kailey Tenn submitted her transcripts and information about her extracurricular activities, and wrote an essay about her interests in music and psychology as part of her application.

“My favorite portion of my essay was when I touched upon significant events and people in my life that led me to love these subjects, especially my grandmother who sparked my love for the piano as I used to sit next to her as she played,” Tenn recalls. “I was very proud of how my essay turned out and am very glad to be majoring in music business and while also looking to minor in psychology.”

The CEOs of local companies serve as judges. “It’s not an easy judging process,” Alessi-Miceli says. “We can get up to 75 amazing applications for 10 to 25 scholarships. Kids take it very seriously.”

Kailey Tenn, now a freshman at Hofstra University, was awarded an HIA-LI scholarship.

“Every step of the [college application] process, such as applying, touring, selection, housing, tuition and, eventually, graduation, involved a financial commitment of some sort,” she recalls. “I applied for every scholarship that I could, including the HIA-LI. I was very grateful for [the scholarship] as it saved me from taking out a larger student loan than I had to, which will make a big difference in the long run.”

“Hofstra is my alma mater and it’s a wonderful school,” adds Suzanne Tenn. “I think it’s wonderful that there are organizations like HIA-LI that promote attendance at Long Island schools that often aren’t recognized for their quality education.”

All scholarship recipients are invited to attend an awards banquet that includes presentations from young leaders on Long Island. Past winners have expressed interest in going into fields ranging from medicine to environmental studies.

“It’s an inspirational program and so amazing to watch kids talk to their contemporaries,” Alessi-Miceli says.

Both Jennifer and Carolyn Gubell were awarded HIA-LI scholarships. Jennifer studied speech pathology at St. Joseph’s College and Carolyn pursued a degree in business administration at Hofstra. Their father, Barry Gubell, the director of warehousing and distribution for NaturesPlus, says, “It helped in a big way to make the financial burden a little easier.”

Jennifer Gubell, who won a scholarship in 2014, still remembers attending the ceremony.

“It was very exciting to win the award,” she says. “I felt that it was a great honor and it was even better that my twin sister won it as well so we were able to celebrate it together.”

Funding Future Leaders

Along with the excitement, Alessi-Miceli hopes that providing an incentive to keep students on Long Island for college will also lead them to pursue careers close to home.

“HIA-LI is a powerful force in regional economic development,” she says. “If we want to maintain that edge, we need to make better connections between our kids and local businesses that need to fill jobs.”

Carolyn Gubell secured an internship with a local accounting firm in the summer of 2018. When she graduated from Hofstra University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in accounting, that company offered her a full-time position.

“To win such a prestigious award was such an honor and made me feel very accomplished,” Gubell says. “The scholarship helped me to achieve my goals, because it helped pay for the outstanding education I received…and also allowed me to obtain internships that helped me get valuable experience in my field. [It] led me to the full-time position I will be starting in the fall.” 

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