IN THIS THANKSGIVING weekend, when our blessings are fresh in memory, it is worth noting new honors and achievements added to the list of things for which to be grateful. Hail, Pitt! To become a Rhodes Scholar is one of the most prestigious achievements that any student can attain, and the University of Pittsburgh now has had six graduates chosen since 1983. Hail, Eleanor M. Ott! She is the latest of these illustrious Pitt grads to become a Rhodes Scholar, one of 32 Americans selected earlier this month for two to three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Ms. Ott, 23, who grew up in Lawrence, Kan., has a passion for helping refugees. At Pitt, she triple-majored in French, chemistry and history, but she has helped Congolese refugees in Zambia and worked with Catholic Charities in Pittsburgh to help refugee families get clothing. Now she plans to study refugee-related issues at Oxford.
THIS ASIDE is brought to you by the letter E, in this case for education, one of the blessings of our area -- and one that was just recognized by the White House. Last week PNC Foundation, which has partnered with "Sesame Street," was one of five partnerships featured by President Barack Obama as he launched a campaign called "Educate to Innovate." PNC Foundation is investing $7.5 million over two years in its "Sesame Street" partnership, part of its 10-year, $100 million Grow Up Great campaign. "Sesame Street" will help prepare preschool activity kits for a new Grow Up Great initiative called Math Is Everywhere, expected to be available by next fall. PNC Foundation also will help sponsor episodes of "Sesame Street" that will focus on science.
YOUNG PEOPLE in Pittsburgh may not all grow up to be Rhodes Scholars but many are great in their own way, making people's lives happier in the holiday season. As Post-Gazette writer Mary Niederberger reported last week, a group of sixth-graders at Moon Area Middle School spent weeks collecting small gifts such as socks, slippers, toiletries, soaps and candies to put in gift bags and boxes for distribution to seniors who use the West Hills Food Pantry in Moon. And students at St. Athanasius School in West View have been making and filling gift boxes for children and adults living in homeless shelters. Indeed, as our reporter found, students from schools across the region are taking on service projects this season to help those in need. Even Oscar the Grouch would be warmed by this.