A winding path to higher ed leads student to leadership

COVID-19 changes at intern program leads students to ‘ambassador’ posts

A winding path to higher ed leads student to leadership

Anna Reidinger, Contributor

For one HACC student, the road to college has not been straightforward.

Despite this, having to face hardship at an early age has shaped this student into a trusted ambassador for a company managing over $7.5 billion in assets.

Third-year student Pope Mills has been earning his degree while simultaneously acting as a campus ambassador for the Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU). Through speaking with the PSECU Community Manager Jen Nicrone, it is evident that Mills displays a “great drive” to continue reaching his goals.

The path to success, however, was not always this apparent for Mills’ circumstances.

Growing up in Brooklyn wasn’t always easy, especially when having to stay in shelters with his father for periods of time. High school wasn’t simple either, as he found himself moving after just a short stretch of time.

“High school for me, was, I want to say sporadic,” Mills said. “I went to high school in two different locations.”

After about six months of attending his first high school, Franklin K. Lane in Brooklyn, Mills moved to Pennsylvania with his family. Here, he attended Harrisburg High for three to six months prior to deciding to drop out.

“I dropped out of high school because I wasn’t really mentally focused,” he said. “There’s a lot of stress in the family, too.”

Despite the stigma surrounding not finishing high school, Mills took the time he needed to refocus mentally, and get himself ready for the future.

Thinking about this future, Mills decided to persevere and enroll with Job Corps. This program is known for helping 16- to 24-year-olds finish their education and get training for possible career paths. While enrolled Mills gained service skills, sales experience, and had his GED by the time he left.

Now, he finds himself pursuing his dream job of becoming a news anchor. To get him there, he is majoring in communications at HACC, with a concentration in journalism. Along with his job at PSECU, this leads him to have a relatively full schedule.

Before the pandemic, Mills was hired as an intern at PSECU. As was the case with many businesses and programs, COVID-19 caused some unexpected changes.

“Since the pandemic, our internship program transitioned into an ambassador program,” said Community Manager Nicrone, “I was lucky to retain Pope.”

Mills is tasked with not only promoting PSECU across campus, but he also presents information on financial education.

Nicrone praises these presentations, adding that “he receives compliments on his delivery and his listening skills.”

With time and dedication, Mills aims to make great strides toward his goals and push for success with every day.


















Mills, Pope.  Phone Interview, Sep. 22, 2021. [email protected]

Nicrone, Jen. Email Interview, Sep. 23, 2021. [email protected]