BC-PA--Class Gift-Mental Health,1st Ld-Writethru/270
Penn State seniors put class gift funds toward mental health
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania State University's senior class will donate its class gift funds to an endowment to support campus mental health services.
Student leaders told The Philadelphia Inquirer (http://bit.ly/1U7y2Nd ) that the gift could reach $250,000, and indicates a growing awareness of the need for mental health treatment.
The vote was personal for senior Ramon Guzman Jr., the executive director of the senior class gift campaign, who sought help after a suicide attempt in his freshman year. The 20-year-old Philadelphia native said he is "overwhelmed" that classmates are supporting the cause.
"We're so constantly bound by the material stuff, bound by what we can put a finger on or what we can see," Guzman said. "To be in a class that basically says, 'I don't care what it does for me, I care what it does for others,' is amazing."
Alissa Janoski, a 22-year-old student from Berks County, said students wanted something that was going to make an impact.
"We had a lot of students saying they didn't want another bench on campus," she said.
The senior class gift committee receives hundreds of proposals each year, and narrows them down to three before the senior class votes.
Dennis Heitzmann, senior director of the school's Counseling and Psychological Services, believes the students were influenced by recent publicity about campus suicides.
The funds will go toward an endowment to support more clinical services, he said. The center sees about 3,600 students a year at its University Park campus.
Information from: Philly.com, http://www.philly.com/
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