The Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association (PFMA) recently awarded its 2022 Thomas R. and Laura Ridge Scholarship to 27 deserving students.
This year, scholarship winners earned a total of $67,500 toward their goals in higher education. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges who review each applicant’s academic record, school and community involvement, recommendations and a submitted essay.
“Kudos to this year’s Ridge Scholars, who represent some of our brightest young adults,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “They have amassed an impressive list of accomplishments, service and leadership both academically and professionally. We are happy to recognize their efforts and help them reach their academic goals.”
Individual scholarship amounts increased this year, awarding every student with a $2,500 scholarship for the 2022-23 academic year. In total, $67,500 in scholarships were awarded, an increase of $22,500 from 2021. Scholarship funds come from PFMA’s Education Trust as well as sponsoring PFMA member companies The GIANT Company, Karns Foods, Rutter’s, Sheetz and Wawa.
“It is an honor to be selected as a recipient of the Ridge Scholarship from the many deserving applicants,” said recipient Sydney Eckhardt of Phoenixville, Pa. “As a Wawa associate for the last two years, my co-workers have shown me how the food industry supports our communities by providing convenient access to food and services. The scholarship will help me in continuing my education at Boston College where I plan to study history and economics while engaging in community service activities.”
This year’s recipients are listed below with their goals in higher education. PFMA thanks its members for sponsoring the Ridge Scholars, and each sponsoring business is listed in parentheses.
Aiden Anderson of Newton Square, Pa., plans to attend the University of South Carolina Honors College to major in international business and minor in Spanish. (Wawa)
Helayna Baer of Cheswick, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in chemical engineering and minor in French. (Sheetz)
Ethan J. Cramer of York, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University to major in architectural engineering. (Rutter’s)
Maizie Ecker of Seven Valleys, Pa., plans to attend West Chester University to major in biochemistry. (Rutter’s)
Sydney Eckhardt of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Boston College to major in history and minor in economics. (Wawa)
Christian Herbster of Nanticoke, Pa., plans to attend Marywood University to become a physician assistant with a minor in nutrition and dietetics. (PFMA)
Francis Iuvara of Haddon Heights, N.J., plans to attend Camden County College Blackwood to major in business. (Wawa)
Katherine Kimmel of Dover, Pa., plans to attend Wilson College to study pre-veterinary medicine. (Rutter’s)
Meredith Lucey of Hanover, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in biology and minor in chemistry. (PFMA)
Peter Murnane of West Chester, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University to major in mechanical engineering and minor in technology-based entrepreneurship and innovation. (The GIANT Company)
George Papoutsis of Mechanicsburg, Pa., plans to attend Pennsylvania State University, Schreyer Honors College, to major in economics. (The GIANT Company)
Riya Patel of Ellicott City, Md., plans to attend the University of Maryland, College Park, to major in public health science. (PFMA)
Hayden Perrone of Phoenixville, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Berks and major in biology. (The GIANT Company)
Jamie Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend the University of Delaware to major in applied molecular biology and biotechnology. (Rutter’s)
Mark Pottman of York, Pa., plans to attend Kutztown University of Pennsylvania to major in cinema, media and television. (Rutter’s)
McKenna Shaffer of Somerset, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in pre-occupational therapy. (PFMA)
Kaitlyn Sheriff of Landisburg, Pa., plans to attend Lycoming College to major in astrophysics and minor in computer science. (Karns Foods)
Caleb Shoemaker of Newport, Pa., plans to attend Penn State Harrisburg to major in mechanical engineering. (Rutter’s)
Dylan Spangler of Spring Grove, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University to major in mechanical engineering. (Rutter’s)
Dominic Spatola of Springfield, Pa., plans to attend the University of Pittsburgh to major in computer engineering. (The GIANT Company)
Sandya Subramanian of Bridgewater, N.J., plans to attend Boston University School of Medicine to major in medicine. (PFMA)
Nadija Sulcaj of Philadelphia, Pa., plans to attend the University of South Florida to major in psychology with a concentration in advanced research experience. (Wawa)
Caitlyn Sweet of Lincoln University, Pa., plans to attend Shenandoah University to major in exercise science pre-physical therapy with minors in biology, physiology and coaching. (The GIANT Company)
Simon Szalla of Lower Burrell, Pa., plans to attend Ohio State University to major in political science. (PFMA)
Ryan Wilson of Mechanicsburg, Pa., plans to attend Bloomsburg University to major in finance. (PFMA)
Cayden Wright of Roaring Spring, Pa., plans to attend Rochester Institute of Technology to major in computing security. (Sheetz)
Donald Yealy of New Oxford, Pa., plans to attend Penn State University to major in forest ecosystem management and minor in wildlife and fisheries science. (PFMA)
Established in 1996, the Ridge Scholarship honors the parents of former Gov. Tom Ridge. Thomas R. Ridge was a member of the food industry for 25 years, and his wife, Laura, was a great advocate of education for their three children: Tom, David and Vikki. To date, 627 students have earned Ridge Scholarships, and nearly $1.2 million has been awarded.
Tune in July 20 as the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association introduces the third season of Shelf Confidence, a podcast focused on trends and innovation in the food and beverage retail industries.
“Our members lead the way with the initiatives they launch,” said Alex Baloga, president and CEO of PFMA. “From sustainability efforts to improved customer experience to innovative loyalty programs and so much more, the podcast provides an opportunity to share the amazing work our retail and associate members are doing to move the industry forward.”
Westfield Egg Farm opens Season 3 with an episode focused on sustainable and ethical farming. Its brands Natures Yoke and Utopihen offer products that take customers down a broader journey focused on family, health and a positive future.
Also on deck this season:
Listen, share and subscribe to catch these episodes, and hear what else is planned for Season 3. Shelf Confidence posts a new episode every other Wednesday morning. The podcast is available at shelfconfidence.buzzsprout.com, or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Google Podcasts.
Shelf Confidence launched in July 2021. Over its two 10-episode seasons, the podcast has highlighted sustainability with The GIANT Company, home meal kits at Karns Quality Foods, reframing healthy snacking with Utz, High’s Safe Shop certification, the benefits of being an independent grocery with Charley Family Shop ’N Save and many other trending topics.