Mindy Sue Nese was an avid fan of Penn State. Her husband, Richard, is a 1979 graduate, having attended the Penn State Harrisburg campus and earning a degree in business management. Her three children are all graduates of Penn State, as well – Timothy in 2004, Patrick in 2007, and Katy Sue in 2012 and 2018. As Richard recently said, “Penn State was in the Nese blood.” To honor the memory of Nese, who died in 2015, a foundation tied to her longtime employer has created a scholarship in her name at Penn State Harrisburg. The Mindy Sue Nese Memorial Scholarship benefits students from Dauphin County enrolled at the campus.
Nese was dedicated to her children’s education. She helped them through high school studies and shuttled them to their extracurricular activities. She also helped them apply to and settle into their studies at Penn State.
She was also committed to her job at the Union Deposit Corporation, a land development and real estate company, where she worked for Alexander Boyd, president, and Paul Mahoney, chairman, for 37 years. Nese began her career at the company after graduating from Central Dauphin High School and the Harrisburg Area Community College with an associate’s degree in administrative office management.
When The Alexander Boyd and Jane Starke Boyd Foundation, which was established by Boyd and his wife, Jane, was looking for ways to honor and remember Nese following her death in October 2015, Mahoney reflected on Nese’s years of service to the Union Deposit Corporation, but what also stood out to him was hearing her proud stories and updates about her Penn State family.
“Mindy Sue Nese was a devoted employee of the Union Deposit Corporation,” Mahoney said. “She was exemplary in her work habits and worked for us almost 40 years. She is greatly missed.”
As chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Boyd Foundation, Mahoney established the Mindy Sue Nese Memorial Scholarship, which provides funding for students with financial need from Dauphin County – including Susquehanna Township, Lower Paxton Township, Swatara Township, and the City of Harrisburg – who plan to attend Penn State Harrisburg.
The Boyd Foundation continues the philanthropic legacy of the Boyds to improve the quality of life in Dauphin County by supporting organizations that provide essential public services and that provide those in need with human services and exposure to the arts, economic, and educational opportunities.
The Boyds were a charitable couple known for their generosity. Alexander Boyd made notable contributions to the Harrisburg area. In 1999, he donated 1,025 acres in Middle and Lower Paxton townships that became known as Boyd Big Tree Preserve. The conservation area straddles Blue Mountain and is part of the Pennsylvania state park system.
The foundation has a focus on organizations in or serving the city of Harrisburg, as well as Lower Paxton, Susquehanna and Swatara townships. The foundation also has an interest in higher education, nature conservancy and supporting organizations in which the Boyds had a charitable interest during their lifetime.
Since 2017, the foundation has provided $132,000 in scholarship and other gifts to Penn State Harrisburg.
The nonendowed Mindy Sue Nese Memorial Scholarship offers awards of $2,000 to selected undergraduates who are enrolled or plan to enroll at Penn State Harrisburg, who have a financial need and who have graduated or will graduate from any high school located in Dauphin County.
Since 2017, 65 students have benefited from the scholarship.
Nese’s husband Richard, son Patrick, and John Trach, a representative of the foundation, recently met with some of the students who have received funds from the Mindy Sue Nese Memorial Scholarship and heard stories about how the scholarship has impacted the recipients’ lives. They were touched by all the ways the scholarship has benefited students at Penn State Harrisburg, with Patrick calling the scholarship “a fitting memorial to (Nese’s) strong work ethic and support of her children.”
“I know that it would mean the world to my mom to be able to hear the unique stories of the students and their backgrounds and to know that a scholarship in her name has been able to touch the lives of so many students to make it easier and less worrisome, and less stressful for them to attend college,” said Patrick Nese.
“She (Mindy) was always looking for ways to help the kids and their friends,” said Richard Nese. “This scholarship was created to help other families in that same way. I think she would have been so proud to be a part of this. I wish she could have been here.”
For many of the scholarship recipients, the award goes beyond financial support and serves as a catalyst of inspiration to achieve their dreams and do more for others. Elementary education freshman Sedona Somers of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has dreams of impacting others by leveraging her education.
She said, “(The support of the Nese scholarship) means more than I can express. I can focus on my academics and extracurricular activities without being stressed on my financial situation. I chose elementary education due to the great impact that my teachers had on me. The power of a good teacher can truly change the direction and drive within a students’ mind.”
For senior Philmon Haile -- whose family immigrated to the United States, settling in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, from the African country Eritrea -- the scholarship was paramount to his ability to attend college. “I don’t know if I would be here this semester if I didn’t have this scholarship,” he said.
Senior Raven Ransom from Steelton, Pennsylvania, had already signed her letter of intent to play college basketball at a Division I college when a car accident resulted in the loss of several fingers and the scholarship she was counting on. However, Raven found she was able to play basketball at Penn State Harrisburg. Staying local allowed her to play her favorite sport and work to help her mother pay for her tuition and medical bills. The Mindy Sue Nese Scholarship has helped Ransom as she approaches graduation.
She said, “The support from this scholarship has significantly eased the financial burden to accomplish one of my many life goals—graduating from Penn State Harrisburg in spring 2020. The endless opportunities at this campus have contributed to my growth and optimistic outlook on my future career surrounding psychology and mental health. I hope one day to create a scholarship such as this one that supports students in Dauphin County who want to create a better version of themselves by attending college.”
Junior Sierra Dixon of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has always wanted to give back in some way. She said that getting a degree in criminal justice is one way to serve her community. For the first-generation college student, there was not a lot of financial support to help her reach her goals, so the Mindy Sue Nese Scholarship has meant a lot to her. “It encourages me more to know other people believe in me. This support will carry me a long way through the rest of my college career and on. You have given me a relief from my financial burden which now allows me to be more focused on my academics rather than my finances. Your kindness has inspired me to help others and give back to my community. I hope one day I’ll be able to help students like me further their education without having to worry about finances, as you so generously did for me.”
Support for the Mindy Sue Nese Memorial Scholarship will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.