Four Lamont brothers helping others attend Penn State Hazleton

Four brothers who started college at Penn State Hazleton continue to make the campus a place where students can get their start.

Joseph, Mark, Gary and Kevin Lamont all graduated from Penn State and went on to successful careers in communications technology, labor mediation, finance and real estate. Their sister, Mary Beth Poluka's son, Michael, also is a Penn Stater.
They get together with each other and their children, many of whom also went to Penn State, at football games and other university events.

To provide young people with the opportunities that they had at Penn State Hazleton, the brothers have initiated or contributed to six scholarships, including the Lamont Family Scholarship and a scholarship in memory of a family member, Matthew J. Lamont, who attended the campus.

When Gary Lamont '74 attended Penn State Hazleton, the campus was small enough that he developed close relationships with everyone from classmates to cafeteria workers to professors.

"I recall helping Professor George Bobby paint his house with fellow students, and helping Professor James Concannon move," he said.

He still sees those relationships develop whether he is dipping Creamery ice cream during Community Day, posing for photos in the Nittany Lion costume or meeting with students who received scholarships during gatherings of the Highacres Society.

"Their stories are impressive, and their appreciation is obvious," said Lamont, whose daughter, Elizabeth, earned a master's degree at Penn State Great Valley.

As a past president and 20-year member of the Penn State Hazleton Council, the advisory board for the campus, he knows that the university plays an expanding role in the Hazleton area, where he still lives.

He said the Continuing Education division of Penn State Hazleton determines what training the area needs and customizes programs for local businesses.

Students still start their education in Hazleton before continuing their studies at University Park, but now he said they also can earn a four-year degree without leaving Hazleton.

To help expand the footprint of the Hazleton campus, he served on a committee to secure donations of land. Now that the campus has added dormitories and food services, Penn State Hazleton contributes more to the local economy, he said.

For Mark Lamont '72 the Hazleton campus was convenient option, and offered a good start on a career as a labor mediator. Mark retired from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania after 38 years of service. He resides in Hershey and is a labor arbitrator, arbitrating labor and management disputes. His two sons, Justin and Michael, also graduated from Penn State.

"To have an institution of higher education anywhere" helps that local economy, as the campus does in Hazleton, he said. "It would be hard to imagine what it would be like without it."

He is proud of how his brothers have contributed to campus.

Kevin Lamont '80 made a special gift to name a room in the Butler Teaching and Learning Resource Center on campus in honor of his son, Matthew, who studied at Penn State Hazleton.

"Matt spent three years at Penn State Hazleton and enjoyed the educational experience and the people very much," his father said.

Matthew was 22 when he died in 2010 from Friedreich's ataxia, a neuro-muscular disease that he lived with for 14 years.

In the three years since then, an annual golf tournament raised $70,000 for the Matthew J. Lamont Scholarship.

"He would be Penn State proud," his father said.

Matthew's brother, Dominic, also attended Penn State Hazleton for one year before deciding to serve his country by joining U.S. Army.

"For me," their father said, "the campus represents a great opportunity for local students who, for whatever reason, prefer to stay local to get a major university education."

The Lamont brothers also initiated or supported the following other scholarships at Penn State Hazleton: Hazleton National Bank - Bank of America, CAN DO Community Foundation, Chic Sacco Memorial - Valley Country Club and Security Savings Charitable Foundation.

The eldest brother, Joseph Lamont '70 enrolled in Penn State Hazleton after serving in Vietnam.

He met his wife, Trish, at an intramural basketball game on campus.

"We started dating, and that was that," he said.

Two of their three daughters graduated from Penn State, where they both majored in business and minored in Italian.

"We have some family in Italy. They are actually the only ones who can speak to them," he said of his daughters.

Before retiring, he worked at AT&T as a computer programmer, systems analyst and sales manager. Now he lives in Mount Gretna and works as a consultant for technical start-up companies.

Through his career, he has traveled and worked with people from around the United States and other countries with whom his Penn State credentials carried weight. A Penn State education has "always been recognized as an organization held in high regard," he said.

He retains fond regard for professors from Penn State Hazleton who shaped how he developed, as they and their colleagues have done for thousands of students.

"I'd say the Hazleton campus ? provides the opportunity for young Hazletonians to get a quality education and get into what I call the mainstream of society in terms of opportunity," he said. "That's what it did for myself and my brothers."