News that two brothers have committed $1 million to a scholarship fund at Shamokin Area School District has been met with much appreciation and celebration.

Dr. M. Keith and Allen Weikel, 1956 and 1958 graduates, respectively, of Shamokin High School, have established the fund through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation (CSCF) as a tribute to their mother, Marian Eleanor Weikel.

Starting this year, a graduating senior will be awarded $40,000 for four years to attend a college or university. The scholarship, which will be awarded every four years, will be given to a deserving student who has extreme financial need, has achieved a 3.5 or higher grade-point average and has demonstrated leadership qualities.

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The Weikels both had noteworthy careers: Keith retired from HCR Manor Care Inc. in 2006 as senior executive vice president/chief operating officer and director emeritus; Allen spent more than 30 years with the FBI and, after his retirement, worked for 15 years as director of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office in Gainesville, Florida.

In a phone interview, Keith credited his success to the education he received at Shamokin High, and the impetus for the scholarship for both men is indeed about education.

“If this scholarship can help one person get out of poverty through education, we will be happy,” he said.

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What we believe lends even more significance to their contribution, however, is that the Weikels themselves “grew up in poverty in Shamokin,” as Keith put it.

These accomplished men weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths, but what their parents, Malcom and Marian, lacked in money they made up for in values — and the recognition that education was the key to a successful life.

That message isn’t as easy to grasp for local students when it comes from someone who never lived here or who grew up in a family of means. That’s why it’s vital for every local student to hear the Weikels’ story about rising to success from poverty, and about how education made that happen.

In fact, that message is as valuable as the million-dollar scholarship they’ve established, and it’s one that can help any local student believe in a better future.

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