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(Harrisburg) — The midstate’s oldest community college has received what officials call a “transformational” gift.

Harrisburg Area Community College plans to invest the money in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs.

HACC officials said the nearly $1.3 million gift from the estate of Gloria Paxton will go to create the John E. Paxton and Gloria W. Paxton Fund for Excellence in STEAM.

It is the largest single contribution to HACC and the HACC Foundation in the college’s 55-year history.

“Mrs. Paxton left 70 percent of her estate to HACC,” said HACC President John J. “Ski” Sygielski. “While the Paxtons did not have children of their own, the impact they will have on approximately 18,000 students at HACC cannot be overstated.” 

The money will be used for a mentoring program for underrepresented or marginalized first-time college students enrolled in STEAM programs. It will also fund virtualization tools to allow students to use complex software remotely and increase access to free textbooks.