Ken and Marie Kittelberger
Ken and Marie Kittelberger wanted to help their daughter as she struggled to balance low-paying, entry-level jobs with single parenthood. Wanting a brighter future for her, they offered to pay her tuition if she pursued a college degree. She took them up on their offer, attended Howard Community College (HCC), and earned her associate degree in nursing. Today, she is a dialysis nurse, helping others in need.
The experience with their daughter inspired the Kittelbergers to support others who could benefit from financial assistance during college.
“We saw what good this did for her,” said Marie. “We thought, ‘Let’s do this for other single mothers or working parents. Let’s give them a hand up in coming here and getting into a profession that will provide for them and their families.’ ”
The couple started a scholarship fund with HCC, and a short while later they received matching funds through a state incentive program for endowment programs at colleges.
“We now had double the amount of money, which meant we could help out more students who have children and are working to make a life for themselves – and are paying for college,” Ken said.
The couple has been donating to the college in various ways since the creation of their endowment in 1999. They purchased a concert grand piano as part of the Horowitz Center for the Visual and Performing Arts building campaign, named four health care simulation labs in the Health Sciences Building, and most recently named a classroom in the new Science, Engineering and Technology Building. Both of these naming opportunities allowed the funds to grow their endowment, as the buildings were paid for by state and county funds.
Another reason the Kittelbergers invest so much in the college is because of their personal experience here. Marie graduated from HCC’s nursing program in 1984, prior to her daughter attending the college. She recalls that the college did not have computers when she attended – her lesson plans were on cassette tapes – so she is impressed with the simulation labs now offered at HCC.
“After HCC, I got my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Towson and they had nothing like [the technology at HCC],” she said. “This is why we like this college so much. It offers so much.”
The Kittelbergers said they donate to HCC to create opportunities for students. But they insist scholarship recipients also contribute to their tuition.
“We don’t pay full tuition because we feel that if the student pays for part of it, they are invested too, and will probably do better,” Ken explained. “So we pay three-fourths tuition, plus books.” The scholarship is available for students who are 25 years or older, single parents, accepted into the nursing program, and have a minimum 3.0 grade point average.
Ken and Marie said they’re looking forward to seeing their grandson, now a high school senior, attend HCC, and find his passion. At this point, the teen is still exploring possible career and educational pathways.
“That’s why he’s coming here – because the community college gives you the chance to explore what’s out there,” Ken said. He expects his grandson will transfer to a four-year school in Maryland.“That’s the nice thing about community college,” Marie said. “It’s so hard to get into four-year schools today as a freshman. After you complete two years here, it’s relatively easy to get in. So that’s another great opportunity for these students to come here first.”