I applied for the Sidney R. Johnston Memorial Scholarship originally underestimating the significant difference it would make in my education and future opportunities. Being awarded this scholarship opened several doors for me that I would otherwise not have been able to pursue. The scholarship assisted me in my attendance at The Pennsylvania State University where I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Bio-Behavioral Health. Because of this scholarship, I could focus on my studies and earn Dean’s list every semester while working a part-time job rather than having to work full-time to afford school. This accomplishment speaks volumes on resumes for graduate school and job applications.
The greatest impact this scholarship had was assisting with my tuition so that I may study abroad in Sydney, Australia through the Institute for the International Education of Scholars. It was in Sydney where I found my best friends, developed independence and confidence, and was awarded with recognition as one of the top ten blog posts out of more than 500 students in my program across the globe. These are all things that the Sidney R. Johnston Memorial Scholarship has rewarded me with and I am forever grateful.
Most recently, I have begun pursuing my Master’s of Public Health in Epidemiology and Biostatistics through The University of Southern California. I look excitingly into what my future holds and thank everyone involved with the Sidney R. Johnston Memorial Scholarship for getting me to where I am today.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Heavy Construction Contractors Association for the scholarship that they gave me 20 years ago. I graduated from James Madison University in 1997 with the help of the $4,000 scholarship. I have been working in the special education field since 1999 after earning a master's degree in special education and transition services. I have taught many students over the years, and have had the opportunity to work with both elementary and high schools students with a wide range of abilities, from mild autism and learning disabilities to more significant intellectual and severe disabilities. Currently, I am working as an Employment and Transition Representative at a nearby high school. I help students prepare for the transition from high school to post-secondary options. As part of my job, I help students apply for scholarships, and several have even won them. I often use my experience with applying for the HCCA scholarship to help them apply. The students I work with often struggle in school. So, it takes time for me to convince them to take a leap and apply for these scholarships, but when they do, I know how life-changing it can be based on personal experience.
The Sidney R. Johnston Memorial Scholarship allowed Benjamin Harbaugh to attend his dream school, the University of Vermont. During his time at UVM, he served as the Director of Social Media and Marketing for the LGBTQA Center, a Lead Residence Advisor, an Orientation Leader, and Director of Operations for the University Program Board. He held student teaching placements in five different schools while studying early childhood special education with concentrations in music, psychology, and Spanish. Ben was a member of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, the Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology, the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Eating Disorder Awareness Committee, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and the LGBQTA Peer Support and Outreach Committee. He participated in the Campus Connect Suicide Prevention Program, became a HOPE Works certified victim and crisis worker, and led trainings and seminars across campus on topics spanning from queer issues in the classroom to restorative practices and conflict management in residence halls.
He made the Dean’s list each semester, graduated number one in the class of 2016 as Summa Cum Laude, and received the Keith M. Miser Leadership Award, the Dr. Alvin Sturdivant Commitment to Diversity Award, and The Provost’s Commitment to Equity and Inclusion Award. He now works at the University full-time as the Learning Coordinator in the Center for Academic Success, while serving as a member of the President’s Commission on Inclusive Excellence, a member of the executive leadership team for the nationally recognized Translating Identity Conference, and a facilitator of The Next Step Social Justice Retreat. He is halfway through his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership on the Organizational Leadership and Non-profit track and will graduate with his Master’s degree in May 2018. Ben hopes to continue working in education, whether that is directly in the classroom with young children with disabilities, or doing queer and trans advocacy and inclusion work at the state and national level. The Johnston Memorial Scholarship gave Ben a boost of confidence that people believed in his dreams, and helped him and his family break the financial barriers to attend an out of state school.
After fulfilling my undergraduate studies in Biology and Environmental Science at William and Mary (B.S. 2009) with the generous support of the HCCA, my wife and I joined the US Foreign Service where I worked at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv as an Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Assistant. Following this post and the birth of our son, Samuel, we returned to the US where my wife began law school at Georgetown and I continued working on US-Israeli policy and programming at a small non-profit in DC. From there, I've held two US government contracting positions at the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security during which time we had our second child, Liesel (now 2). We now live in Southeast DC where my wife starts a 1-year fellowship in the DC Mayor's Office of General Council.
I attended the University of Virginia after receiving the award in 1992. At the time, this single scholarship covered almost half of my tuition cost, thus allowing me to graduate debt-free. I landed my first job in the construction industry in 1996, aided by the HCCA connection on my résumé. I’ve spent almost my entire career working at HCCA member firms, and currently hold a position as Director of Business Development at Total Development Solutions. Additionally, I served as a member of the HCCA Board of Directors in 2014.