Helen Fischman receives the Legacy Award for Perseverance
At this year’s commencement, Helen Fischman received the Legacy Award for Perseverance. She was recognized for overcoming some incredibly challenging circumstances––her young son was diagnosed with cancer––while still performing at a high academic level. She earned her bachelor’s in legal studies and graduated magna cum laude.
In response to her son’s illness, she started Harrison’s PJs for Pediatrics in 2017. Working with local businesses, she collected more than 500 pairs of pajamas for hospitalized children. In 2018, the initiative collected hundreds of pairs of PJs for the patients at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. She hopes to expand the program and do the same for hospitalized children in Pittsburgh.
A Harrisburg resident, Fischman works as a legal assistant for the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, Office of Chief Counsel. She had previously attended HACC and the Pennsylvania College of Technology. She graduated from Central Dauphin East High School.
We recently had a chance to talk with Helen Fischman
What made you interested in attending Central Penn?
Helen Fischman : Honestly, I decided on a whim to go back to college when my twin boys were six months old. I searched for ABA-approved programs close to home and found Central Penn right across the bridge.
You’re a legal studies major. What led you to that major? Can you talk about your experience in that program?
HF: I always had a love of the law and research in general. I love the fact that the law can be interpreted and applied differently. The program at Central Penn was amazing. We were given plenty of opportunities to research, debate and present our work. I loved the fact I was being instructed by attorneys who genuinely wanted to see me succeed. Their genuine care and concern for myself and my studies came to light when my child was diagnosed with cancer.
What are some of your favorite classes at Central Penn? Favorite professor(s)?
HF: I loved all of my legal studies classes. My favorite professors were Randy Brandes, Randi Teplitz, Bob Donley, Jonathan Koltash,and John and Teresa DeLeo.
What type of classes (in-person, online, hybrid) did you take? Did you have a preference?
HF: I took both online and in-person classes. I liked online for flexibility and loved on-ground for the opportunity to interact with other students.
Now that you have your legal studies degree, what are your career plans?
HF: I am currently waiting for a decision on my Widener Commonwealth Law School application.
What would you say to someone who is considering coming to Central Penn?
HF: Do it! If I can come back as an adult learner, a single parent and help my son beat cancer all while maintaining a good GPA, so can you. You will never know what you can or can’t do until you try. Age and life situation should never deter you from your dream. If you want it bad enough, you will make it work.
Anything else that you would like to say about your Central Penn experience?
HF: I am thankful for the flexibility in the program to take online and on-ground courses. It worked for my life and family needs. The faculty and staff are amazing, without my professors, Sandra Box [from the Education Foundation] and Transcript Coordinator Stephanie Humphrey, I could not have made it look as easy as I did. There is support everywhere––take advantage of it!
“There is support everywhere––take advantage of it!”