Three Alumni Receive Awards at Commencement Ceremonies
William R. Gamber, of Lancaster, was presented with a Distinguished Alumni Award on May 11. Matthew L. Gross, of Boulder, Colo., received an Alumni Achievement Award during the same ceremony. Dona Bean, of DuBois, was presented with an Alumni Humanitarian/Citizenship Award on May 12.
Distinguished Alumni Award
The Distinguished Alumni Award is given to those who have made significant contributions in their chosen fields, demonstrated the importance of their education at Penn College, participated in leadership roles within the community, and demonstrated a commitment to the college and community relations.
Gamber graduated from Penn College predecessor Williamsport Technical Institute in 1959 with a two-year certificate in tool making. He is semi-retired as co-owner and chairman of Dutch Gold Honey, the largest independent honey company in the nation. Dutch Gold has 90 employees and produces 55 million pounds of honey annually.
Before joining his parents in the family business, he worked at Flinchbaugh Products, where he received his journeyman's papers; at RCA, as a tool and die maker; and at AMP Inc. (later known as Tyco and TE Connectivity), as a supervisor.
He left AMP for Dutch Gold, calling upon his machining education and training to purchase and maintain the factory’s machine-shop equipment. The business continued to grow, and Gamber became president after his father retired.
Gamber also serves as vice president and co-owner of En-R-G Foods, as a partner in the Dutch Gold Business Center, and as co-owner and chairman of Gamber Container Co. Inc. He is a past president of the National Honey Packers and Dealers and has served on the National Honey Board – under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service – as chairman and vice chairman, and as chairman of the Advertising and Public Relations Committee.
He is director of the Gamber Foundation, which supports local charities, honey-industry research and scholarships for Dutch Gold Honey employees. He also has served on the East Hempfield Township Parks and Recreation Committee. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002.
Gamber and his wife of more than 50 years, Kitty, have two children and seven grandsons.
Alumni Achievement Award
The Alumni Achievement Award is presented to graduates from the past 10 years who have demonstrated achievement in at least one area, including noteworthy professional or career accomplishments or dedicated volunteer service to the college or community. Recipients also must demonstrate the importance of their Penn College education and continually support the mission of the college.
Gross earned an associate of applied science degree in plastics and polymer technology from Penn College in 2006. He continued his education at The Pennsylvania State University, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in material science and engineering. He is employed as a materials and process engineer for Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp., a subsidiary of the packaging company known for its familiar “Ball” canning jars. Ball has contributed to hundreds of NASA projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope, Deep Impact and the Mars Rover Lander.
Gross proposed the research and received a $150,000 internal grant from Ball to study carbon nanotubes – tiny, hollow tubes of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair – for use in Ball Aeropspace applications. He is the youngest member of Ball’s materials and process engineering group.
While a student at Penn College, Gross was a member of Campus Crusade for Christ and the Society of Plastics Engineers student chapter. He was a plastics ambassador, teaching basic plastics concepts to high school students and worked in the college’s Plastics Manufacturing Center (now the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center). He founded the Outdoor Adventure Club and competed in the Quad College Business Plan Challenge.
Gross hopes to establish a plastics company that would provide both crucial commodities and employment opportunities in Rwanda, one of the world’s poorest nations. He has visited the country twice and plans to create a company that would manufacture drinking bottles and PVC pipe used for water transportation that would help alleviate water shortages and the need to travel great distances for safe drinking water.
He plans to partner in the venture with a pair of Rwandan brothers who founded Umuryango Children’s Network, a boys home for which Gross is sponsorship director. He also serves on the board of directors for Global Capacity, a nonprofit providing financial assistance to secondary-school students in Rwanda. He and his wife, the former Roxanne Dahlgren, were married in August 2010.
Alumni Citizenship/Humanitarian Award
The Alumni Citizenship/Humanitarian Award is bestowed upon graduates of Penn College or its predecessor institutions who have provided distinguished community or volunteer service and presented themselves as dedicated and loyal alumni.
Bean received an associate of applied science degree in dental hygiene from Williamsport Area Community College in 1979 and continued her education at Lock Haven University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education/social science. She is a licensed dental hygienist who practiced for more than 20 years.
She is second vice president of the DuBois Regional Medical Center Auxiliary Board, as well as chair of the Scholarship Committee and the Annual Food Fair. Bean is a member and past president of the Salvation Army in DuBois, and she is a board member of the DuBois Ministerial Food Pantry. She also volunteers at the DuBois Free Medical Clinic.
Bean is coordinator of the Care Committee at Christ Lutheran Church, DuBois, where she oversees a variety of projects including the Stress Box Subcommittee, the Distribution of Altar Flowers Subcommittee, the Habitat for Humanity Subcommittee and the Convalescent Meal Subcommittee.
Bean assisted the Gallup Food Pantry in McKinley County, N.M., in obtaining donations of food and clothing. This pantry is open seven days a week; 38 percent of the county’s population lives below poverty level. Bean recruited church members and led the effort. In approximately four months, nearly 600 boxes of goods were collected. Bean enlisted a Wal-Mart distribution center to deliver the goods and flew to New Mexico to meet all involved with the project.
According to her nomination, “Dona hopes her actions will influence a child (or adult) to become involved and serve their community.” Bean is married to George Bean, M.D.
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