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Architecture Alumni “Open Doors” for Undergraduates with Creation of Scholarship

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Gina and Rob Narracci

Completing an arts or design degree is much more like a marathon than a sprint. And Rob and Gina Narracci hope to help students get across the finish line.

The Narraccis, who earned their architecture degrees at Penn State, have established an Open Doors Scholarship in the College of Arts and Architecture as part of a special one-year program in which the University matches a donor’s gift 2:1, thus tripling its impact. The Gina Eicher and Robert Narracci Open Doors Scholarship is intended to assist students who need more than four years to finish their degrees, whether because of course requirements, juggling classes and a job, or transitioning between campuses.

“We feel fortunate to have gone to Penn State when costs were relatively more affordable than today, and we were lucky enough to finish free of any significant distraction,” explained Rob, who is an associate principal at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. “The nature of this scholarship is to help students of limited means who have completed almost all of their degree requirements but have experienced a profound disruption in their final year at Penn State. We feel good about helping a demonstrably motivated but less fortunate student get over the finish line.”

Rob and Gina—a former associate principal at Pelli Clarke Pelli and now a principal at Apicella and Bunton Architects—both agree that Penn State prepared them well for the profession. “The architecture program at Penn State has always had a great reputation for both its aesthetic focus and its technical focus. Upon graduation, we felt well prepared to enter a profession that is cross-disciplinary and integrative in nature,” said Rob.

According to Don Lenze, director of development for the College of Arts and Architecture, too many students with financial need are forced to juggle classwork and money-making work. “They have to work multiple jobs while studying and take fewer courses per semester, meaning they need to stay at Penn State longer, greatly increasing the cost of their degree. These scholarships are intended to open doors for students facing significant financial need and help ensure those doors remain open through graduation.”

Beyond actual dollars, Rob said he hopes the Narracci Open Doors Scholarship takes some burden off students. “We hope that scholarships provide students with a sense of security knowing that there’s a wider community beyond the immediate campus comprising people who care.”

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 doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; create transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impact the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more, visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.