The Hunter-Harnishfeger Family Scholarship, established in 2018 by long-time (and recently-retired) Lock Haven professors, Dr. Shonah Hunter and her husband, Dr. Ralph Harnishfeger, was awarded to Morgan Marchakitus, of Sweet Valley.
Marchakitus, who was also awarded the Ken Thompson Marine Biology Award, is a senior majoring in biology with a dual concentration in marine biology, and ecology and environmental science. She is also pursuing a minor in environmental studies.
Recipients of the Hunter-Harnishfeger Family Scholarship first receive the award during their sophomore year. As long as they remain in the biology program and maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, they continue receiving the award throughout their academic career. Marchakitus first received the award during the 2020-21 school year.
"It is so impactful and motivating to know that donors like Dr. Hunter and Dr. Harnishfeger believe in students like me and are willing to invest in our success," Marchakitus said. "It makes me want to work even harder to make myself, Lock Haven, my scholarship donors, and their families proud."
Along with boasting a 3.6 GPA, Marchakitus is a member of the Biology Club, and the president of the Marine Science Club. She is also a three-year student worker for principles of biology 1 and principles of biology 2, a position that was offered to her by Hunter following her freshman year. That year, she also received the biology department's Principles of Biology Award for being the freshman student with the best grades following the completion of her biology courses.
"Congratulations to Morgan on these noteworthy accomplishments," said Bashar W. Hanna, University president. "She is everything that an outstanding Lock Haven student should be."
"I'd also like to thank Drs. Hunter and Harnishfeger for their generosity and for epitomizing everything that The Haven Family represents," he added.
Lock Haven's proximity to her hometown, the home-like feel of the campus, and the strength of the biology program are what initially attracted Marchakitus to The Haven. Since arriving, she has grown to value the relationships she's been able to form, the educational opportunities she's been granted, and the biology professors who she said have had a significant impact on her personal and professional growth.
"My professors are constantly pushing me to be better and encouraging me to follow my passions in biology to always be the best I can be," Marchakitus said. "Several faculty members have gone above and beyond, and I am particularly grateful to Dr. Hunter, Dr. (Steven) Seiler, Dr. (Heather) Bechtold, and my academic and research advisor, Dr. (Daniel) Spooner."
Marchakitus also credits her scholarships for providing her with much needed financial relief, especially through the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the ways in which they've impacted her academic success.
"It's important to me that each of my donors know how greatly appreciative I am, and how motivated their generosity has made me as a result," Marchakitus said. "It's so impactful to have people in your corner cheering for you and wanting you to succeed. I'm determined to make them proud."
According to Marchakitus, her career aspirations are broad, but she is intent on pursuing
a career that enables her to conserve and restore environments, and protect the biodiversity
present within them, most likely in marine ecosystems.
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