March 13, 2024

Charting my own ‘affordable’ college path

Chase Slenker ’23 ’24
Shippensburg University

Chase Slenker, Student Ambassador at Shippensburg UniversityWhen I was looking into colleges back in 2017, I started with the PASSHE schools first because I knew—even as a high school student—that I wanted a high-quality higher education at the most affordable cost.

Today, as I sit here as a soon-to-be graduate of both an undergraduate and a graduate program at Shippensburg University, I know I made the right choice.

Shippensburg has given me the opportunity to learn from highly experienced faculty and other academic professionals at a fraction of the cost of other schools. PASSHE has even had the same tuition for an unprecedented six consecutive years, which is longer than my entire college career. Admittedly, there’s still more the state can do to make college more affordable and accessible for all. PASSHE is doing its part by providing scholarships that allow students to focus more on their education and less on what is in their wallet.

Continuing at Shippensburg for my MBA after completing my undergraduate degree in Supply Chain Management and Accounting was a no-brainer. In addition to its affordability, the program is accredited by AACSB International and has won numerous awards. Plus, I was already enrolled at the institution and was able to get started on my graduate courses during my last semester of undergrad, and that helped ease my transition to full-time graduate studies and a full-time career.

Chase Slenker visits Clark Associates headquarters in Lancaster, PA.The scholarships I received from the PASSHE Foundation and Shippensburg University helped me throughout my entire higher education. As an undergrad, scholarships helped me pay for college without mountains of student loan debt and enabled me to focus more on my studies and co-curricular activities. I was a member of the Wood Honors College and was a resident assistant for two years. I peer anchored a first-year seminar course during my senior year, and I was a student ambassador all four years.

I served in student government for three-and-a-half years—two of them as vice president of finance. I also participated in intramural volleyball, was a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, and worked many on-campus jobs including as a staff member at our Ceddia Union Building. In addition, I wrote weekly for The Slate, Shippensburg’s student newspaper. Most importantly, I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA and am on track to do the same with my master’s degree.

As a graduate student with a full-time career, I spend my limited free time with family and friends and volunteering at my church. The Giant Food Stores Scholarship, made possible by the PASSHE Foundation, helped jump-start my graduate degree and motivated me to continue my education as a working professional.

When I graduate in May with my MBA, I will be forever grateful for the opportunities Shippensburg and PASSHE have provided me and the thousands of other students who might not even have gone to college without an affordable option. The entire experience taught me so much about myself, the business world, and how to work well with others to be successful. I’ve been able to chart my own path and take a financially responsible approach to reaching the finish line. 

I have a lot of big dreams for this next chapter of my life—from running for public office to starting my own business—but for now I’ll continue working as a Category Manager at Clark Associates where I oversee the company’s plant-based/vegan category and fruits/vegetable categories growth, profitability, and success. I hope to one day inspire others the way friends and mentors continue to support and inspire me!

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