The Wright Center Collaborates with National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement on Scholarship Program

The Wright Center for Community Health and the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement are collaborating on a paid scholarship program that will educate, train and employ up to 10 medical assistants for the regional health care provider.

The scholarship program prepares individuals for an exciting and rewarding career in health care without out-of-pocket expenses for tuition. The National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement offers a one-of-a-kind training model that combines flexible online learning with a paid internship in a primary care clinical setting over 29 weeks. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older with a high school diploma, GED or equivalent. The scholarship is worth $6,000.

Students will also receive personalized training with experienced medical professionals at The Wright Center for Community Health during the clinical portion of their education while earning $10 per hour. After completing the educational component of the program, students will sit for the National Healthcareer Association Medical Assistant examination to receive their Certified Clinical Medical Assistant credential. Students who complete the national training program have an 85% pass rate.

The 10 students who accept the scholarship will be eligible for employment at The Wright Center for Community Health’s practices in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne counties, which serve patients in a five-county region. New medical assistants will receive $18 per hour upon successfully completing the program and passing the certification examination, and agreeing to a two-year commitment to work at the local health care provider.

“Medical assistants are integral members of our patient care team,” said Kathleen Barry, deputy chief operating officer at the Wright Center for Community Health. “We are pleased to offer this opportunity to regional residents who are looking for a rewarding and exciting career, while addressing the health care needs of community members in the region.”

A medical assistant is responsible for assisting doctors and nurses in providing care to patients in hospitals, offices of physicians and other health care facilities. Duties could include recording and updating medical histories and contact information in patient files, scheduling patient appointments and performing standard care procedures, such as taking blood samples, measuring and recording vital signs, and more.

The employment outlook for medical assistants is projected to grow 18% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations. About 104,400 openings are projected annually, on average, over the decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The deadline to apply for the scholarship program is Sunday, Nov. 14. Interested applicants can apply at Please call 570-230-0111 for more information.

Penn State Scranton to Host Author

Michael Sidney Fosberg, founder of Incognito Inc., grew up believing he was white; then, in his early 30s, he learned that he is actually Black. Penn State Scranton will host Fosberg on Thursday, Nov. 4 at noon in the Study Learning Center’s Sherbine Lounge, he will present, “Nobody Wants to Talk About It – Race, Identity and the Difficulties in Forging Meaningful Conversations”.

For more than a decade, Fosberg has toured the country performing his autobiographical play, “Incognito” at schools, colleges corporations, government agencies, community organizations and military bases. The play is based on his personal experiences in learning of, and discovering, his Black biological father.

After hundreds of presentations and in-depth dialogues, Fosberg has assembled a set of tools and takeaways useful in navigating uncomfortable conversations about race and identity. 

He will share these tools at this presentation, with the goal of providing a road map to more authentic and meaningful conversations and authentic dialogue.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Nicole Paolicelli in Penn State Scranton’s Student Activities Office at 570-963-2703 or email: You can also visit the speaker’s website at:

Tobyhanna Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month

October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Team Tobyhanna took the opportunity to recognize the contributions of team members with disabilities, as well as those who support them.

In addition to traditional federal hiring practices, Tobyhanna utilizes the Schedule A Hiring Authority, which provides non-competitive avenues for qualified applicants with disabilities to gain federal employment.  According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 61 million adults – one in four – in the United States live with a disability.

Employees with disabilities have a robust support system at Tobyhanna, starting with the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Office, whose mission is promote and support EEO in the workplace through compliance with applicable laws.  The EEO Office has four staff members, ready and willing to aid to employees with disabilities.

One of those employees is Sign Language Interpreter Stacy Hoila, who supports 10 deaf or hard-of-hearing employees across the depot.  A veteran interpreter with 26 years of experience, she connected with her mission while in college studying forestry.

“I took an American Sign Language (ASL) class as an elective and found I was easily able to learn this complex language.  As time went on, I became fascinated by the unique and diverse culture of deaf people.  It didn’t take me long to decide I wanted to make my interest a career,” she said.

After working in the private sector for 24 years, Hoila joined Team Tobyhanna in 2019.  In addition to her interpreting duties, she also serves as an advocate for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.

“Most people don’t realize that, for many deaf people, English is not their first language. For some, ASL comes more naturally because it is visually based in comparison to English, which is a spoken language. So, when you need to communicate with a deaf person, doing so through an interpreter is the best option.”

Hoila also noted that many misconceptions about deafness exist among the general public.

“One thing people always say to me is that they assume all deaf people can read lips and can do so well.  What they don’t realize is that only about 30% of English words are available on the lips – the rest of the words are formed inside your mouth and throat,” adding that people should try watching television with the sound muted to understand how difficult reading lips can be.

Depot photographer Thomas Robbins doesn’t let his disability get in the way of his passion:  documenting the world around him.  Born with an extremely rare congenital birth defect, Robbins underwent amputation of his lower right leg at just one year old.  Acclimating to this disability was challenging for Robbins, who says that many commonplace activities were more difficult for him.

“For most of my life, I couldn’t get my prosthetic wet.  So, simple daily tasks that able-bodied individuals may take for granted – taking a bath or shower, swimming, enjoying a ride at a water park – would require me to remove my prosthetic, which was often embarrassing and could be dangerous.  Fortunately, prosthetic technology has rapidly advanced, and I can now function like most able-bodied individuals.”

Robbins joined Team Tobyhanna under the Schedule A hiring authority, serving first as a Tools and Parts Attendant in the Tool Crib.  He says the hiring experience was unique.

“In the private sector, I would not typically disclose my disability when applying for a job. Working for TYAD, I don’t feel that my disability negatively impacts my opportunity for advancement,” adding that the depot has been an ideal employer.

“Tobyhanna is the most considerate facility I’ve ever worked at.  There are plenty of accommodations for individuals with disabilities such as myself.”

 Robbins says that co-workers of an individual with disabilities can be supportive by being sensitive and open-minded to the topic.

“I think that each disabled person has a different story. Some people are comfortable talking about their disability, while others are not. Respecting an individual’s privacy if they choose to not talk about their disability is important, and we shouldn’t make assumptions about an individual because of their disability.”

Matthew Powell always had a strong desire to support America’s warfighters, but his cerebral palsy (CP) kept him from enlisting in the military.  According to him, working at Tobyhanna Army Depot is the next best thing.

“As an Army civilian, I appreciate that I can still serve my country and those who defend it – regardless of my disability.”

According to the CDC, CP is the most common motor disability in childhood. Symptoms and severity vary from person to person.  Powell, who was diagnosed after a premature birth, says his case of CP is mild.

“While symptoms of CP can be very severe, I have what is classified as partial paralysis.  What people will notice is that I don’t move very quickly.  But, that doesn’t mean I can’t do a job like an able-bodied person,” adding that the challenges presented by his CP are mitigated by his fantastic colleagues.

“We are committed to working together, and I’m lucky that my co-workers will volunteer for tasks that may be daunting to me – and, in return, I take on tasks that might be difficult for them.  It’s all about teamwork,” he said.

As a Technical Writer/Editor, Powell works with other professionals to create technical manuals for military equipment operators.  He applauded the depot for being an inclusive workplace.

“Tobyhanna has been welcoming and accommodating to me as a person with disabilities.”

Powell is also committed to living life to the fullest, despite his CP.  One of his many hobbies is competitive arm wrestling, a sport that has earned him accolades including two Pennsylvania championships and a national championship.  Individuals with severe physical, psychiatric and/or intellectual disabilities who are interested in learning about the Schedule A hiring authority can contact the TYAD EEO Office at (570) 615-7880 or visit the Office of Personnel Management website:

Pennsylvania American Water Systems Recognized for 20 Consecutive Years of Excellent Tap Water

Customers of Pennsylvania American Water can rest assured of the quality of their tap water, as 17 of the company’s water treatment plants were recently recognized by the Partnership for Safe Water at the Directors and Presidents levels for achieving water quality excellence. The national awards, which honor efforts to continuously optimize water treatment plant and distribution system operation and performance, were announced by the American Water Works Association.

“Maintaining these levels of quality demonstrates Pennsylvania American Water’s continued commitment to optimizing treatment processes and providing high-quality water to customers,” said Pennsylvania American Water President Mike Doran. “Through the past year – pandemic and all – the dedicated teams who support these systems have continued their work every day to deliver tap water that is safe, clean, reliable, and meets or surpasses state and federal drinking water standards. I am so proud of our team for receiving more Partnership for Safe Water awards than any other water utility in the nation.”

The Pennsylvania American Water treatment plants recognized this year are listed below. A full list of the company’s award-winning water systems can be found here.

20 Year Directors Award

  • Brownsville Water Treatment Plant (Fayette County)
  • Crystal Lake Water Treatment Plant (Luzerne County)
  • Kane Water Treatment Plant (McKean County)
  • Lake Scranton Water Treatment Plant (Lackawanna County)
  • Norristown Water Treatment Plant (Montgomery County)
  • Punxsutawney Water Treatment Plant (Jefferson County)
  • Susquehanna Water Treatment Plant (Susquehanna County)
  • Watres Water Treatment Plant (Luzerne County)
  • White Deer Water Treatment Plant (Union County)

10 Year Directors Award

  • Stony Garden Water Treatment Plant (Northampton County)

5 Year Presidents Award

  • Bangor Water Treatment Plant (Northampton County)
  • Brownell Water Treatment Plant (Lackawanna County)
  • Crystal Lake Water Treatment Plant (Luzerne County)
  • Hershey/GC Smith Water Treatment Plant (Dauphin County)
  • Indiana Water Treatment Plant (Indiana County)
  • Nesbitt Water Treatment Plant (Luzerne County)

5 Year Directors Award

  • Rock Run Water Treatment Plant (Chester County)

“We’re proud of our incredible team of expert scientists, treatment plant operators and
engineers that support our water systems,” Doran continued. “This impressive award demonstrates their dedication and commitment to protecting the health and safety of our customers for the past 20 years and beyond.”

Nationally, just over 400 surface water treatment plants are part of the Partnership for Safe Water, a voluntary effort that is designed to increase protection against microbial contamination through treatment optimization.

Lackawanna College Hosts Recovery Walk for National Recovery Month

Members of the Lackawanna College community, including students in the Addictions concentration of the College’s bachelor’s degree program, conducted a Recovery Walk in downtown Scranton today. September is National Recovery Month, and students and staff spent the morning learning about care providers within walking distance of the main campus, including DATS, TPALS, and The Recovery Bank.

Allied Services Receives Donation from Hawk Family Foundation

PHOTO ID: from left, Atty. Bill Conaboy, President & CEO, Allied Services; Carolyn Hawk Horter, Chair of the Board, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates; Chris Cuneo, President, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates; Patrick Hawk, Vice President, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates; Susan Jeffery, Administrator, Hawk Family Foundation 

Allied Services recently accepted a $10,000 donation from the Hawk Family Foundation. The donation represents a contribution to WNEP’s Ryan’s Run, an annual charity campaign that raises funds for rehab technology and services benefitting patients and residents of all ages and abilities at Allied Services. The charity campaign culminates on November 7, 2021, when a team of volunteers from around Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania and beyond will participate in the TCS New York City Marathon. With support from local businesses, foundations, schools, and individuals, the campaign aims to raise more than $300,000 for vital community services and rehab technology at Allied Services. 

The recent donation by the Hawk Family Foundation is part of an ongoing partnership between the family-owned Gertrude Hawk Chocolates and the local non-profit health system. Over the years, Gertrude Hawk Chocolates has supported the non-profit health system’s school for children with dyslexia, skilled nursing facilities, and other programs that benefit individuals, families, and communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. They also partner with the Vocational Training Center on Allied Services Scranton Campus to employ individuals with disabilities. 

Johnson College Announces New One-Year Academic Certificate Program

Students can now enroll in Johnson College’s new one-year academic certificate program, Industrial Technology. The program will launch during the spring 2022 semester.

This one-year academic certificate program prepares students for employment as entry-level industrial technicians. Students will learn industry skills such as diagnostics, equipment repair, machine testing, and operations. The program also teaches students critical thinking and decision-making skills.

Graduates of the program will prepare to work in machine shops, fabrication shops, distribution warehouses, and similar settings that encompass the industrial technology industry. They will know how to work in a team environment, practice professionalism, and acknowledge organizational diversity.

The Industrial Technology field is expected to grow by 19% per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates entering the field have the potential to earn $54,920.

“We are excited to add the Industrial Technology one-year academic certificate to our growing list of programs,” said Bill Burke, M.S., Johnson College’s Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs. “Graduates of this program will become proficient in the technical skills industry requires, and will also acquire the essential soft skills required to enter today’s workforce.”

For more information about the program, or to enroll in Johnson College’s Industrial Technology program, please visit or contact Johnson College’s Enrollment Department at 570-702-8856 or

University of Scranton Professors Awarded Grant for Research Equipment

Michael Fennie, Ph.D., Arthur Catino, Ph.D., and Nicholas Sizemore, Ph.D., all associate professors of chemistry at The University of Scranton, were awarded a $362,773 National Science Foundation (NSF) Major Research Instrumentation grant. The grant will allow the University to purchase a Bruker 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, which will be used by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty at Scranton in both chemistry courses and research projects. Professors from local colleges and researchers from area companies will also have access to the state-of-the-art equipment, as will area high school students through an outreach program included as part of the NSF funded proposal.

“NMR spectroscopy is central to modern chemistry research. This instrument uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to determine the structures of molecules, giving us information about their physical properties and reactivity,” said Dr. Fennie, the principal investigator on the grant. “We need to train our students to be competent scientists once they enter graduate school, or start a career in industry or at a lab. Having hands-on research experience using real-world instrumentation at Scranton is what makes a difference in our outcomes.”

NMR spectroscopy shares the same theoretical principles as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) used in healthcare – only for molecules, explained Dr. Fennie, which he said also provides a good conceptual foundation for pre-med students. The new NMR equipment, with much-improved detection and throughput capabilities, will increase the productivity of faculty research and enhance the research-training of undergraduate and master’s students as they prepare for STEM careers in academia or industry.

NMR spectroscopy, using older equipment, is already included in more than half a dozen chemistry courses at Scranton, including organic chemistry labs II and III, Instrumental Analysis Lab, Forensic Chemistry Lab, and Advanced Inorganic Lab. The new equipment will enhance the students’ exposure in courses as well as supplement their research projects.

“Our current instrument allows for only a single sample to be loaded at a time for analysis, and each analysis takes a long time to complete, making it impractical to obtain individual NMR data for each student in larger lab courses, such as sophomore-level organic chemistry. The new equipment allows for auto-loading of multiple samples at a time, and the time required for each analysis is much shorter, enabling students in these labs to prepare their own samples, submit them to the NMR queue, and then receive their own data, which is getting closer to what it is like in an actual research setting,” said Dr. Fennie. “Getting that training early on is only going to be more helpful to our students’ development as scientists.”

The technology can also be used for broad research areas ranging from medicinal chemistry, such as studies pertaining to peptide folding and natural products, to experiments for the synthesis of molecules that can be used in OLED displays.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Dr. Michael Fennie and his colleagues at The University of Scranton, and this investment in our students and promise it has to bridge the classroom to the work room,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright. “Giving industry partners access to this tool will serve as an enticement for them to stay in the region and grow our STEM-related job market. I also applaud the collaboration among our higher learning institutions and secondary schools, I look forward to what new research, new ideas and new scientists may come from it.”

The new equipment will be used for collaborative and independent research projects with faculty members at area colleges, such as King’s College, Penn State Scranton and Keystone College, as well as for studies at area businesses, such as Schott Glass, The Azek Company and Process Technologies and Packaging.

Dr. Fennie is especially interested in how the new equipment can be used discover new reactions and better understand how these reactions actually work.

“The NMR will allow us to collect data on how fast a reaction proceeds and the intermediates the reaction might go through. That is important for developing new chemical processes, and optimizing reactions so that we can use less resources in our experiments. In other words, making the chemistry more sustainable,” said Dr. Fennie.

In addition, the University will work with teachers at Scranton High School, West Scranton High School, Honesdale High School, Mid Valley Secondary Center and MMI Preparatory School to bring their students to campus to learn more about the scientific uses of NMR spectroscopy.

The NMR spectrometer will be installed during the University’s winter break and intersession. Faculty, and then students, would be trained in the use of the new equipment in late January and during the spring semester.

Dr. Fennie joined the faculty at Scranton in 2012. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Canisius College and his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Catino joined the faculty at Scranton in 2013. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Franklin and Marshall College and his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of Maryland. Dr. Sizemore joined the faculty at Scranton in 2015. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Case Western Reserve University and his doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of California, Irvine.

Honesdale National Bank Welcomes New Branch Supervisor

David Raven, President and CEO of The Honesdale National Bank, announced Sharon Smith has joined HNB as Branch Supervisor of the Lackawaxen Office.

In making the statement, Raven noted, “We are pleased to welcome Sharon to the HNB Family. Her strong retail and customer service experience will be of great benefit as we look to continue to support the needs of our customers in the Lackawaxen community.” 

Originally from Queens, NY, Smith is new to the financial industry. She moved to the area in her teenage years, graduating from Honesdale High School, and has since received her Bachelors of Science Degree in Management from East Stroudsburg University. She has then pursued over 20 years in retail management at the Dollar Tree in Honesdale.

In mentioning her new role with HNB, Smith said, “I am excited to start a new career and reinvent myself in a new industry.” She continued, “I am looking forward to using my decades of experience in the customer service industry to serve my community in a new way.”

In her spare time, she enjoys spending it with family, watching movies, or shopping.