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Six students admitted to Clarion nursing program; more on the way

MICHELLE GANASSIMay 18, 2019

As construction continues at the Somerset County Education Center, Clarion University is already admitting students for the fall nursing program class.

In fact, Debra Sobina, assistant dean of Clarion’s College of Health and Human Services, said Wednesday that they have about 24 applicants, six of whom have already been admitted to the program. She said that five were testing for admission Wednesday as part of that group.

“It is more than expected given the limited amount of direct marketing we’ve done at this point in time,” she said. “We are excited to have that kind of response based on that much.”

She said the target is 30 students for the fall class.

“We will keep (admissions) open as long as we possibly can,” she said.

She said about half of the applicants are transfer students.

“That is validity for the (Somerset County) Foundation for Higher Education,” said Sue Funa, foundation executive director. “We have intelligent students in the county. They just need a place to get educated for postsecondary education. We are just so happy Clarion University is here.”

Funa said the foundation has 13 scholarships available to date that are specific to the program.

“It is very exciting to see something positive in Somerset County and it’s growing,” she said. “I’ll be even more excited to see students walk through the door and receive an education and receive their ASN, possibly BSN, possibly MSN. The possibilities are there for the students.”

Funa said the foundation is one of the beneficiaries of the Daily American 10K/5K Challenge. Money will be used for additional scholarships for the program.

Sobina said that Clarion is planning a marketing campaign for the program, which will include joint marketing with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. The associate of science in nursing degree program will be offered in partnership with Penn Highlands, which offers general studies at the education center, and UPMC Somerset, which offers clinical work.

Sobina said that the building project is ahead of schedule and that Clarion should have access to the building by the beginning of June.

“It has been one of the easiest, best projects I have ever worked with as far as construction projects,” Sobina said.

The project is being funded by a $350,000-a-year line item in the state budget.

Sobina said that expanding Clarion’s footprint in Somerset is not off the table.

“If it is something we do well and something you need, we would love to be here more,” she said.

She said the college is still looking for faculty applicants.

In September officials announced that Clarion had signed a five-year agreement with Somerset County to lease space at the Somerset County Education Center to bring back a nursing program. In January 2017 Allegany College of Maryland announced that it would no longer offer classes at the center in Somerset Township.

The lease with Somerset County is for $1,281 per month for five years, and it started Sept. 1.

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