“I hope this helps students find a pathway for their future, and that they’re happy with that path. I hope they have the feeling that they can also give back by helping someone else when that moment comes.”

For one Bethlehem couple, their unexpected interactions with NCC graduates were life changing. Now they’re returning the favor.

Few people are grateful for having suffered a broken femur. But when Sharon Yoshida went to the hospital for treatment, a physician discovered an unrelated and more serious condition: her esophagus had a large tear where it connects to her stomach.

She had emergency surgery and spent 17 days in the ICU, nearly dying of sepsis.

During Sharon’s time in the hospital and in rehabilitation, her husband, Ron, a former dean and provost at Lehigh University, would by habit ask the medical staff where they received their education.

About half the time, the answer was Northampton Community College.

“They were wonderful — everybody we encountered from the nurse assistants to the occupational therapists and physical therapists,” says Sharon. “So many were from Northampton, and all of them were very skilled and caring.”

“They were very complimentary about Northampton,” adds Ron. “That they received a wonderful education, that the staff was very attentive to their needs. Some of them had gone there for second careers, and they were very positive about their programs and preparation.

“They weren’t equivocating; Northampton helped them get where they were.”

The Yoshidas were so impressed that they established a scholarship fund at NCC for students considering a career in the medical field. Having both benefitted from scholarships themselves, they wanted to pay it forward.

“I hope this helps students find a pathway for their future, and that they’re happy with that path,” says Ron. “I hope they have the feeling that they can also give back by helping someone else when that moment comes.”

Ron and Sharon met in New York when Sharon was a school psychologist and finishing her Ph.D., and Ron was a professor at Fordham. They moved to Bethlehem when Ron became dean of Lehigh University’s College of Education and Sharon took early retirement. After four years as dean, Ron spent four years as provost and then nine years as professor of educational leadership. Having devoted their careers to education, the couple has a deep appreciation for what NCC offers.

“The support for students financially, emotionally and academically is amazing,” says Sharon. “Many of them would not be going to college otherwise. This is an institution that helps young people change their lives.”