Warren Forest Higher Education Council's Office Manager, Emily Magnuson, Assistant Director Angela Bigelow, and Executive Director Joan Stitzinger with Your Daily Local's Brian Hagberg celebrating the Hi-Ed Council's 40th anniversary. Photo by Donna Smith.

Warren Forest Higher Education Council Celebrating 40 Years

June 10, 2024

WARREN, Pa. – Friday kicked-off a summer of celebration for the Warren Forest Higher Education Council as it celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Taking advantage of National Donut Day, the Hi-Ed Council offered donuts and coffee to those who stopped in looking for more information, or just wanting to share their congratulations. That was the first of a few events planned for the season.

“They’re going to be small events throughout the summer basically inviting the community here,” Hi-Ed Assistant Director/School to Work Coordinator Angela Bigelow said. “We just want to give back to the community a little bit for their support over the years.”

One of the main reasons the Hi-Ed Council has had such longevity, Bigelow said, is due to its ability to adapt with the times.

“We’ve evolved to the needs of the community,” Bigelow said. “So we’re not the High-Ed that we started out as in 1984. But over the 40 years, we’ve been several different versions of High-Ed.”

In just the last two decades, Hi-Ed has shifted from primarily offering in-person college courses to remote learning and workforce development.

“Right now, we’re really working with workforce development, you know, trainings for different manufacturers in the community,” Bigelow said. “We have NPRC (Northern Pennsylvania Regional College) here, so people can locally access some sort of college to start out with, and then if they want to go further, they have that opportunity.”

Bigelow said having NPRC as a local resource has allowed Hi-Ed to have a better mix of offerings.

“NPRC is definitely the access point for rural higher education,” Bigelow said. “And we’re happy to have them here as well.”

While much of Hi-Ed’s focus is on adult learners, there are also opportunities for grade school students.

“We do a college fair, so they can come through and meet people from different places and see what opportunities are available to them,” Bigelow said. “We do a financial aid night we do SAT prep, and we’re looking at leadership classes for middle schoolers coming this next school year.”

One of the goals of working with middle and high school students is to show the local career paths available to them.

“We definitely push a lot of things so kids can kind of have an idea of what’s available locally too if they want to stay in the area,” Bigelow said. “That’s what everybody would like, is for them to want to return here and see the value that’s here and the jobs that are available here.”

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