Alumni fund scholarship to benefit first-generation, military family students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State alumni couple Antonio Nieves and Emily Sallack leveraged the 1:1 University match offered through the First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program to create one of the largest scholarship funds in Educational Equity. The Antonio Nieves and Emily Sallack Student Success Scholarship in Educational Equity will focus on aiding students who are the first in their families to attend college or who hail from military families, reflecting Nieves’ background.

“I am delighted that Antonio and Emily have chosen to support Penn State students with such a generous gift, one that will advance Educational Equity’s commitment to making Penn State an even more diverse and inclusive community,” said Marcus Whitehurst, vice provost for Educational Equity. “Antonio’s and Emily’s gift will serve as an inspiration to our students, as well as other alumni.”

Nieves lived in multiple countries while growing up in a military family and began his college education at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College before completing his accounting degree in the Smeal College of Business in 2003. He held finance- and operations-focused roles in the technology, consumer electronics, and pharmaceutical industries before transitioning to retail and taking the helm as CEO at ModCloth. Sallack is a Harrisburg native and third-generation Penn Stater who studied international politics in the College of the Liberal Arts, earning her degree in 2004. She credits Penn State’s Liberal Arts program with allowing her to choose from many different paths, leading to her career in finance.

“Penn State was a key starting point for our professional and personal lives, so we wanted to give back to a place that is near and dear to us,” said Nieves.

“We selected a preference for first-generation college students because we understand the challenges these students face not only in paying for school, but also in knowing what to expect in college,” Sallack added. “And we appreciate the sacrifices military families make in service to our country. We hope our scholarship will help students from these backgrounds to know that they are seen and supported.”

The First-Time Endowed Scholarship Donor Matching Program encouraged the couple to donate now, they explained. An initiative of "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," the program provides a 1:1 match for donors who create their first endowed scholarship at the University. The program will remain available until the end of the campaign on June 30, 2021, or until the University’s matching funds have been expended.

Nieves will be the keynote speaker for Educational Equity’s Scholarship Celebration Brunch on April 21, 2018.

Gifts from Penn State’s alumni and friends have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University has begun "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the door to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit


Andrea Pagano-Reyes, Director of Development for University Programs

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