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Pittsburgh Promise Aims To Offer Support, Even After Graduation

Liz Reid
90.5 WESA

More than 200 Pittsburgh Promise scholars and alumni gathered downtown Wednesday to meet with prospective employers for the annual Career Launch.

Eligible to four-year graduates of Pittsburgh Public high schools, the Pittsburgh Promise pledges to cover a sizeable portion of college tuition for students who maintain high attendance and a grade point average of 2.5.

Schenley High School graduate Shaneise Murray, now an investigator in the City of Pittsburgh Office of Municipal Investigations, told attendees she graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 2012 with a major in criminal justice, but couldn’t find a job in her field. Instead, she worked as a manager at Macy’s.

At last year’s Career Training Day, she said she met the city’s head of personnel, who told her they didn’t have an investigator position open at that time.

“But I still networked with her, I followed up with my resume, I followed up with emails, and through that I was able to obtain a position in the mayor’s office,” Murray said. “Later on, because I had networked and told her my interests, I was able to get that investigative position.”

As a first generation college student, Murray said the Pittsburgh Promise put a four-year degree within reach for her. 

Brashear High School graduate Richard Cardillo echoed that.

He said he still had to work through college, but the scholarship meant he didn’t have to worry as much about money and could focus more on his grades.

Cardillo graduated from Robert Morris University in 2015 with a degree in manufacturing engineering. Now in Allentown, he's participating in a two-year leadership training program with the Massachusetts-based tech firm Thermo Fisher Scientific and credits a 2013 Pittsburgh Promise networking event for hooking him up with the job.

“I might not be working at Thermo Fisher Scientific right now,” Cardillo said. “I might not be in a position that’s going to enable me to be a manager two years out of school, to have future aspirations, to be in senior executive-level management positions.”

Promise spokesperson Lauren Bachorski said the organization is committed to supporting students even after they graduate from college.

“We don’t want to just get them to and through college, but we also care about the fact that they come back to the region and have employment,” she said. “They’re able to … fulfill their dream full-circle.”

90.5 WESA fellow Mora McLaughlin contributed to this report.