Head Start Scholarship Recipient Paves the Road to Success - Luzerne County Head Start
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Head Start Scholarship Recipient Paves the Road to Success

October 25, 2021

One of the significant benefits of early childhood education is that it builds a love of learning that lasts well beyond the preschool years.  Amber Grohowski, a 2016 graduate of Nanticoke Area High School, and former Luzerne County Head Start student, is a testament to the success of what early learning programs can do for young children in school and later in life. 

The young woman from Nanticoke recently landed a job in the medical field at UPMC in Williamsport.  Amber graduated from Wilkes University earlier this year, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience.  Following graduation, she enrolled in Bloomsburg University’s Intraoperative Neurophysiologic Monitoring Program.  The certification helped to prepare her for her career as a surgical neurophysiologist.

“Neuroscience pulled together the best of both worlds for me; a lot of psychology with some biology, too.  I developed a passion for everything I was learning about.  I felt like I could use a lot of it in my own life.  For example, different parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, neglectful and the type of personality children growing up in those situations are likely to develop.”

Amber’s role as a surgical neurophysiologist puts her in the operating room, where she monitors patients’ nervous systems for possible adverse reactions while undergoing surgery.  Surgical neurophysiologists use tools like needle and sticky pad electrodes to help them observe problems that may arise during surgery.  The surgical neurophysiologist then works with the surgeon to let them know what the patient is experiencing in order to help reduce the risk of postoperative deficits.

Amber credits much of her success to her beginning at Head Start and the support she received from her family.

“My parents mean the world to me and having them by my side during my childhood helped shape me into the person I am today.”

Amber’s mother, Diane Grohowski, said the structure Head Start provided coincides with Amber’s success in her personal life. 

“I think the play-based learning method Head Start follows propelled Amber to be involved in school.  Even as an adult, I think that model helps her to solve problems and get along with others.”

Diane said at times she and her husband faced financial hardships, but she was thankful Head Start was there to help them.

“I stayed home with my children for eight years and my husband didn’t have a great paying job.  One year for Christmas, Head Start put tags on their giving tree.  Amber was adopted by a business office and the employees collected four big bags of gifts for her.  It was such an incredible and unimaginable gesture.  The whole Head Start experience was positive – it really helped tie everything together for us.”

During her senior year in high school, Amber learned from her guidance counselor at Greater Nanticoke Area High School about Luzerne County Head Start’s alumni scholarship program.  Each year, the program honors the achievements of former Head Start students graduating from high school and continuing their education.  Recipients are chosen based on academic performance, personal achievements, leadership, motivation and school and community involvement. 

Amber said, “I knew tuition was going to be costly, so I wanted to apply for a scholarship that I would be able to easily relate with.  Head Start is where it all began for me, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

Head Start alumni scholarships are supported entirely by community organizations, businesses, and individuals like Gary Williams of Shavertown.  In 2012, Mr. Williams, who serves as treasurer on the Luzerne County Head Start Board of Directors, established The Fran Williams Memorial Scholarship in memory of his late wife, who liked to give to those in need of a little extra help.  Each year the recipient of this scholarship receives $4,000, which is spread out over a student’s first two years of post-secondary education. 

Amber was the 2016 recipient of The Fran Williams Memorial Scholarship.  She says that little extra the scholarship provided helped her to get the college experience she wanted.  As a token of her appreciation, Amber invited Gary to attend her graduation ceremony at Wilkes.  He was grateful to attend. 

“I was surprised and honored for this invitation.  I attended the ceremony and met Amber and her family and learned that she is now employed by UPMC and using her degree to monitor patients’ nervous systems for possible adverse reactions while undergoing surgery.  What a great success story and excellent example of what supporting scholarships can mean to a young person who has successfully finished high school and is seeking a college education.”

Amber’s mother, Diane, is proud of how far her daughter has come since her early beginnings. 

“I am pleased that Amber can sustain her own lifestyle – she pays all of her bills, drives a new car, rents a nice townhome and has a great job.  I am proud of how far she has come and so thankful for the help we had along the way.”

When she isn’t at work, Amber enjoys spending time with her two cats, Morris and Fireball, and is working to master her baking skills.  She also likes to travel back home to Nanticoke on the weekends to visit with her parents.  Amber says a quote she lives by is, “Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” 

From 1987 through 2021, scholarships totaling $293,250 have been awarded to outstanding students, like Amber, who began their educational journey at Head Start.  Scholarship applications for former Head Start students who will graduate in June of 2022 are now available. The deadline for submission is January 28, 2022. 

Businesses, organizations or individuals in the community who are interested in sponsoring a scholarship for a high school senior should contact Lindsey Fredericks, community advocate, Luzerne County Head Start, by emailing lindseyf@hsweb.org, or calling 570-829-6231.

Posted by: Lindsey Fredericks

Amber Grohowski, with scholarship sponsor, Gary Williams, at September 2021 commencement ceremony