READING, Pa. — When sisters and Penn State Berks graduates Nicol Varona Cancelmo, class of 2013, and Cory Varona-Corniel, class of 2011, were growing up in the Dominican Republic, they hated their curly hair, and they spent years fighting it with chemical straightening. As adults, though, they came to embrace its natural texture, and they wanted to make it easier for other women to love their curly hair, too. They used their Penn State educations to launch a company, DN Organics, to sell safe and effective products — and they used the support of the Berks LaunchBox powered by Penn State to network with other entrepreneurs and mentors, build an online shopping platform, and grow their business.
“What makes me most proud to be a part of the Penn State community is the network of support, and the fact that you feel like family,” said Varona Cancelmo in a video interview. “Having others that we can lean on for help in building our business has been instrumental to our success.”
One of 21 sites that are part of the Invent Penn State LaunchBox & Innovation Network, the Berks LaunchBox and related economic development programs at the campus received a total of $1.2 million in philanthropic support, matched 1:1 with University funds, during “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence.” The campaign, which concluded on June 30, raised more than $2.2 billion for the three key imperatives of a modern land-grant institution: opening the doors of higher education to students from every background; creating transformative experiences for both students and citizens; and impacting the larger world through research, outreach and service. While the nearly $844.5 million raised for the last imperative advanced a wide range of priorities across the University, the campaign focused attention on three opportunities for impact: economic development, resource security, and human health.
Source: Philanthropy helps Penn State and Penn Staters to impact the world