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"Believe in Belize" Pies Gannon Celebs for an Educational Cause

Believe in Belize team alongside Master Barber and Dr. Walter Iwanenko

Believe in Belize team alongside Master Barber and Dr. Walter Iwanenko

The Gannon University Believe in Belize team hosted "Pie a Gannon Celebrity," raising funds to support the group's work and investment with Kuxlin Ha, an elementary and middle school and Pathlight, an organization that sponsors students to allow them to attend high school. This year the team is raising money for a student named Hilberto to continue his education and earn a high school diploma. 

The education system in Belize differs from that of the United States in that public education is only free through the eighth grade; it costs $2,400 a year to complete high school. According to opening remarks made by pre-med/biology and philosophy student Allyson Owens, "the average family size in Belize is also much larger. Most children that I talked to during our trip had six or more siblings. If families are able to save enough money to send a child to high school, they usually have to choose among their children to see who gets to go." 

The team set a fundraising goal of $500, at which point Dr. Iwanenko, Vice President of Academic Affairs, agreed to shave the beard he'd been growing since November in front of the crowd by Master Barber.

“I see how hard you, our staff, and our students are working to support this project and each other," Dr. Iwanenko said. "Your dedication is contagious. Although I will not be going on the trip if I can help the team be successful it would be like I am there with you. If we take that approach with all of our initiatives across our University there is no stopping us.”

Leading up to today's event, "Believe in Belize" surpassed their original goal, raising $1,315.50; they hope to bring in a total of $9,600 before their spring break 2021 trip to cover the host of Hilberto's high school education. 

Tickets were sold for the chance to pie Gannon celebrities, including professor for the public health department Dr. Mary Jean Taylor, director of athletics Lisa Goddard McGuirk, biology professor Dr. Steve Ropski, Metz Dining Service's Chante Woodard, resident campus minister Emily Muntean, head football coach Erik Raeburn, head women's soccer coach Colin Petersen, and Student Government Association president David Long. 

"We just wanted to remind everybody how incredibly lucky, fortunate, and blessed we are to be able to receive an education," Owens said. "Getting the chance to help someone else get the education that he deserves is truly such a wonderful opportunity." 

See more photos from today's event on Gannon's Facebook page. 

Believe in Belize operates out of the Student Development and Engagement Office as a supplemental service trip. 

For more information and to learn how you can get involved, contact Alyson Eagle, LPC, NCC at

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