Congratulations to the 2024 Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarship Recipients!


On May 22, 2024, the Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Staff Scholarship Fund in partnership with the Pennsylvania Head Start Association, named Bara'a Kamal (Kingston, PA), Emily Jacien (West Wyoming, PA) and Sabina Hoffower (Emporium, PA) winners of the fourth and final annual Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarships at the Pennsylvania Head Start Association’s annual membership meeting. 

The scholarships recognize Head Start graduates, with outstanding academic and personal achievement, along with strong leadership and motivation. Each winner is receiving a scholarship towards their post-secondary education.

Bara’a Kamal is the top scholarship recipient of the 2024 Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarship Fund. Bara’a lives in Kingston, PA and is a senior at Wyoming Valley West High School and has been awarded the $3,000 scholarship. Bara’a attended the Luzerne County Head Start Program. She has been accepted by Wilkes University (Wilkes-Barre, PA), the University of Scranton (Scranton, PA), Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, NJ), and Rutgers University (New Brunswick,NJ). She plans to major in computer or mechanical engineering and minor in data science and to earn her

master's degree after completing an internship in her chosen field. As an Arab woman who plans to work in STEM she expects to challenge herself and societal stereotypes while increasing representation for others like her. Ultimately she wants to become a voice for young women in marginalized communities.

‘When Bara’a’s name is mentioned, the first words that come to mind are respectful, conscientious, kind and motivated,’ said Wyoming Valley West guidance counselor Brenda Christian. ‘Bara’a brought us diligence in both the classroom and extracurricular activities, with a grade point average of 4.18.’

Bara’a is president of the National Honor Society, president of the student council, co-president of Black Youth in Action, and lead representation of All Over the World Club. She qualified at the state level in the future Business Leaders of America. She also received top score in the Wilkes University EIII Engineering Olympics and the Pennsylvania Math League. Bara’a is earning college credits from Lackawanna College through their dual enrollment program and participated in the University of Scranton's High School Scholars Program among her many other activities.

Bara’a attributes her academic achievements through the foundation that was provided by attending Head Start. Congratulations Bara’a and best wishes on your future endeavors!

Emily Jacien is the second scholarship recipient of the 2024 Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarship Fund. Emily lives in West Wyoming, PA and is a senior at Wyoming Area Secondary Center and has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship. Emily attended the Luzerne County Head Start Program. Emily has been accepted to the honors institute at Thomas Jefferson University in the BArch Architecture program (Philadelphia, PA).

Emily hopes to bring her passion for the environment and sustainability into her designs, increasing the availability of high quality affordable housing to low income communities.

French teacher Ryan Charnitski, who taught Emily for 3 years, said ‘Her dedication to her studies is apparent as soon as you meet her, but she also managed to find time for volunteer work in our community as well as a part time job. In my humble opinion, this displays her dedication to her future and upcoming college level studies.’ Emily's grade point average is 95 and she has taken several honor courses and is a member of the National Honor Society and Drama Club.

Emily believes that the Jeff Koppel Memorial Scholarship will help finance her college education, putting her in a position to make her plans to help others a reality. She is thankful for Head Start giving her the foundation she needs to be successful in school and life. We congratulate Emily on your success and wish you the best for your future!

Sabina Hoffower is the third scholarship recipient of the 2024 Jeff Koppel Memorial Head Start Scholarship Fund. Sabina lives in Emporium, PA and is a senior at Cameron County Jr/Sr High School and has been awarded a $2,500 scholarship. Sabina attended the Northern Tier CAC Head Start Program. Sabina has been accepted to Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) as a physical therapy major.

Sabina’s love for school and the happiness she feels within her education all started with Head Start. It was there she had her first opportunity to show her true personality.

Cameron County high school English teacher Jessica Grovanz, who taught Savannah for several years writes, ‘Sabina puts forth an effort to be successful at whatever she does including achieving a balance between school, work, and extracurricular activities that allows her to be successful at both.’ Sabina is the Secretary of the Student Council and Member of the Student Advisory Committee, as well as volunteering at voting polls. Sabina also maintains a 96.2 grade point average.

Upon graduating with a Doctorate Degree, Sabina intends to specialize in Pediatrics and obtain a job at Pittsburgh Children's Hospital. Her teachers and Head Start played a key role in shaping and encouraging Sabina to embrace her own unique self. Sabina, well done on your accomplishments and best of luck on the journey ahead.