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Donor Spotlight: The Stricklands

by UPMC

Carolyn and Elliott Strickland have a total of five college diplomas between them, ranging from a pair of bachelor’s degrees to the Ph.D. in educational psychology Carolyn holds from Pennsylvania State University.

Yet, despite all their schooling, the hours they spent buried in books, and their determination, drive, and sound decision-making, Carolyn and Elliott still believe luck played at least a small part in their success. Now, through their work in philanthropy, the husband-and-wife team hopes to provide opportunities for those who haven’t been quite so fortunate.

The Stricklands are volunteers for the Susquehanna Strong Comprehensive Campaign for the Foundation’s Keystone Society Committee and recently made a generous donation at the Cornerstone Society level.

But, philanthropy isn’t new to Carolyn and Elliott.

Carolyn, a Pennsylvania native, and Elliott, who spent most of his youth in South Carolina, may have been raised in different environments, but both say they received exposure to a culture of giving from early on in childhood. Apparent in both households was a passion for community, the practice of lending a hand to neighbors in need, and a driving force to care for others as much as they cared for themselves. From Carolyn’s giving to her church as a child, to Elliott’s support of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980s, to their joint funding of scholarships for minority college students, the Stricklands have supported a variety of causes over the years.

But, after losing a dear friend to breast cancer last fall, Carolyn and Elliott decided that a donation to the Susquehanna Strong Comprehensive Campaign in her memory was a loving way to honor their friend.

One goal of the Campaign is to raise money for the expansion of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Williamsport, and the Stricklands hope their donation means fewer residents of the Susquehanna region will have to say good-bye to a loved one prematurely.

Carolyn and Elliott are committed to contributing what they can to make the community “strong, healthy, and happy,” but it was their daughter, Emma, who was the one in need in March 2019 when she suffered a ruptured appendix.

What could have been a dire situation for the 15-year-old freshman at Williamsport’s Loyalsock Township High School — and an extremely stressful time for her parents — was expertly handled by the acute care team at UPMC Williamsport. Not that they needed a reminder, but for Carolyn and Elliott, the experience reinforced the importance of having quality health care available in their own backyard.

It was their employment in higher education that initially brought the Stricklands to Williamsport. Both work at Penn College, with Elliott serving as vice president for student affairs and Carolyn as vice president of enrollment management and associate provost.

More than 20 years after their arrival, the Stricklands are still here and are happier than ever.

“Our area has so much to offer,” Elliott says. “It’s not perfect, but it gets better and better each day because there are good people doing great work for our community as a whole.”

It’s that chance to contribute to the community they’re proud to call their own that excites Carolyn and Elliott about their roles with the Keystone Committee and why they were moved to donate to the Susquehanna Strong Comprehensive Campaign.

“We’ve tried to make volunteerism and philanthropy a focus of our lives,” Carolyn says. “Over the years, our ability to give time and/or financial support has varied, but we always try to do what we can.”