'Undeclared' student found passion in York, hopes to give back
As a student at York College, Bryce Kruger appreciated his proximity to downtown York City because it gave him the opportunity to hobnob with the movers and shakers.
He would go down a list he got from Debra Naumann, the student liaison for his scholarship program, and go to three to four meetings per week, asking local leaders, “What is your story, how did you get to where you’re going, and what are you passionate about?”
No one had a linear story, he said, so the experience was always eye-opening.
Kruger, 22, will be one of about 300 graduates at York College's Dec. 19 winter commencement ceremony, thanks in part to a full academic scholarship through the York College Community Opportunity Scholarship Program, available exclusively to William Penn Senior High School students.
Going to William Penn, Kruger said, “we weren’t the best test-takers,” but the scholarship gave him, and other recipients, the opportunity to go to college.
The best major: Kruger had many interests, from music to architecture to math, so he went into college with an undeclared major.
It was probably the best decision he made, he said, because it allowed him to explore different options — a big part of which he attributes to undeclared student adviser Stephanie Perago.
"She really guided me through and showed me, 'Hey, it’s OK to not know what you’re doing because it opens up so many more opportunities,' and she’s been the most influential character of my life," Kruger said.
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Kruger’s exploration eventually led him to a public relations major, with minors in marketing communication, speech communication and creative writing.
“I ended up in PR because I love talking to people,” he said, noting another big influence — public speaking professor Brian Furio, who he said helped him discover his strengths.
“You can think that you’re good at something, but in reality what you’re actually good at" might be something else, Kruger said.
York influence: Born and raised in York City, he said he was also heavily influenced by his community and hopes to give back.
Kruger said being a witness to changes in York inspired him to want to get involved, but he doesn't want to forget about the community that was there before the change.
"Now that we have (change), what are we doing to bring those people into that community?" he said. "I want to make sure that the change happening here is for the right people and the right reasons."
Sometimes it's just about re-evaluating the approach to things, he said.
"For example, If we have people coordinating volunteers, let’s work together as one united group instead of three or four separate groups all competing for the same pool of people," he said.
The past two summers, he interned at Downtown Inc and the York County Economic Alliance, two organizations where he said he could see himself working in the future.
"York is where my heart is, it’s where my passion is," Kruger said, so he hopes to stay in town after graduation, though he said he doesn't want to close any doors.
Ceremony: Kruger will be speaking at Wednesday's ceremony, along with alumnus and former trustee George Shorb and Josh DeSantis, director of the Master of Education Program.
Shorb, a two-time Purple Heart awardee for his service in Vietnam and the first player coach on York College's golf team, was a member of the first graduating class after the college became a four-year institution in 1972, a news release states.
His 24 years as a York College trustee helped launch the West Campus expansion and construction of the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center.
He will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
DeSantis, an assistant professor and education technologist, researches, publishes and presents on topics such as technology integration programs, helping teachers to use technology and augmented reality.
The ceremony will begin at 10:15 a.m. in the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center’s M&T Field House.