Susan and Bill Schneider
After owning an IT training company for 26 years, Susan and Bill Schneider wanted to focus their energies on giving back. They started by infusing charitable giving into the company ethos – offering discounted tuition in exchange for service hours, organizing service days for employees, and committing 10% of profits to charity.
Still, they wanted to do more, and decided to focus their support on organizations that were helping people overcome challenges and achieve success. They starting giving to Howard Community College after learning about academic support programs that are helping individuals succeed and thrive.
“We want to help those who need it, in ways that maintain and support their dignity,” Susan explains. “The Howard PRIDE and Career Links programs are doing just that. They acknowledge the unique circumstances and challenges of the students, while providing resources to help them find their own success.”
Howard PRIDE, which stands for ‘purpose, respect, initiative, determination, excellence,’ is a mentorship and leadership program designed to promote academic success and achievement for black male students through peer support, academic monitoring and advising, academic and professional skills development.
Career Links provides support and assistance to single parents and displaced homemakers in managing the challenges of balancing college, work, and family. Along with peer support, the program provides one-on-one assistance to students to identify and access resources for academic and career success.
As an adjunct professor in HCC’s mathematics division, Bill was impressed by the focus and drive of HCC students, in spite of the obstacles many of them face.
“It seems like every student in my classroom has a plan, and a desire to move forward,” he says. “There is so much diversity on the campus, and HCC is a place where people of all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds come to lift themselves up.”
Their investment pays off in student success stories, like that of Tammy, who returned to college after a divorce and the loss of her mother. Battling grief and the pressure of being a sole supporter to her children, Tammy nearly crumbled.
“I thought I was Super Woman, but it didn’t work out that way,” she says.
A concerned professor pointed her to the Career Links program where she took advantage of free counseling services to manage her grief, as well as other program resources that allowed her to continue her academic journey.
Abdoul Keita was introduced the Howard PRIDE program through an on-campus networking event, with current PRIDE students acting as ambassadors for the program. He admits that it was the “free-food” that first got him in the door, but after that he was able to take part in many of PRIDE’s outreach activities, including friendly football and basketball matches with local police. Abdoul credits the PRIDE program with giving him confidence in the classroom and an understanding of the career options open to him as a business major.
The Schneiders credit program directors Maureen Marshall, Career Links and Geoffrey Colbert, Howard PRIDE for offering personal attention and encouragement to every student.
“You don’t expect the curve balls, but when those things happen and they pull you off track, you have to figure out something else,” Tammy says. “The services at HCC were amazing. And I graduated. That was an amazing thing for my kids to see.”Susan says, “These students often face challenges just to get through the day. They need wins, and these programs help provide those wins.”