Paying it Forward: The 2018 Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship

By:  Cynthia Dawn Ericson

stephen and kelly

It was Friday and a soccer game day at the West Chester Christian School and Stephen was running to score a goal when lightning came from the heavens.  Stephen was surrounded by the lightning and God’s love and we were blessed to have him with us for five days before God called him home.  Stephen entered Heaven on September 19, 1984 at 6:03pm.  Stephen was just 16 years old.

Later that same night, my Mother, in the midst of her unspeakable grief, started to write a letter to Stephen.  She wrote and wrote and poured her heart out to her beautiful son.  It is the most loving and beautiful letter.  She shared it with each one of us and we were speechless – I was just 21 years old.  It is only with the passing of time and maturity that I have been able to more fully appreciate the beauty and power of her message.  For her to be able to articulate her heart and thoughts in the moment of unimaginable loss is hard to comprehend.  There is only One who can provide the words and strength to a Mother’s broken heart and it is God.  Because “with God ALL things are possible.” 

Mother’s letter was passed to family, friends and colleagues.  A local company “Leaman Advertising” learned about Stephen’s accident and Mothers letter and asked if they could print it.  Since that time Mother’s letter titled “LATER ON” has been around the world.  For the first 15 years after Stephen passed, every month, Mother and Daddy received phone calls and letters from people letting them know they had read “LATER ON” and shared how it had transformed their life.  The stories were all about renewed relationships with God and family.  How people found hope, comfort and strength – to move forward in life while living with loss.

Stephen was and is a beautiful ray of sunshine, energy, joy, love and FAITH.  To demonstrate his character I want to share the story of Stephen’s last pair of shoes.  Mother took Stephen to Exton Mall to buy shoes for the school year.  As they were leaving the mall a young girl was entering with her Father, and the young girl was extremely disfigured and had several, severe physical challenges.  When Stephen and mother reached the outside of the mall Stephen turned to my mother and said “Mom, did you see how beautiful her smile was…I hope people notice her beautiful smile!”  This is Stephen.

Stephen’s goal, after high school, was to continue his education with a college degree.  Laura and Joseph Ericson, Jr. decided to create The Stephen Chandler Ericson Scholarship to be given, annually, to a high school senior to help with their freshman year of college or trade school.  The first scholarship of $250.00 was awarded in May of 1985.  From its inception, until 2010, the scholarship was only known and supported by family and close friends.

2018 marks the 39th scholarship in Stephen’s Honor and Memory over the last 34 years (in five of those years 2 scholarships were given each year).  The theme of Stephen’s Scholarship is that “one life makes a difference.” Each year when we meet with the scholarship recipient we share our three-fold mission, which is, WITH GOD:

  • Turning Tragedy into Triumph
  • The Importance of Education
  • Paying it Forward

Some of the best moments of my life have been sharing the testimonials with my Mother and Father.  Lee Johnson was the first in 1985 and he has since created his own scholarship and foundation.  He shared that his life was transformed because of the scholarship and inspired to live a life of “giving back”.  He lives that life today.

In 2010 my husband, Gary Beideman, and I started to realize that when we pass on Stephen’s scholarship would end – we wondered how we could keep things going.  As we started to research foundations we thought this may be a goal that was well beyond our reach.  We associated the concept of a “foundation” reserved only for those with great financial means.  We then turned to The Chester County Community Foundation and shared Stephen’s story and what my parents had created and sustained all these years.  We met with Karen Simmons and Beth Briglia and learned about the BLESSING of the Chester County Community Foundation.    We thought we were knowledgeable about our area but through the Community Foundation we learned about ordinary people doing the extraordinary as they reached those without a voice.  We learned, that Stephen, Mother and my Father could continue to change lives – long after we pass on.  We began Stephen’s Foundation with $1,000.00 in December of 2010.  As of 2018 the endowment has exceeded $47,000.00.

In 2018 we reached out to our community for sponsorships, as a way of adding more dollars to what the endowment would yield.  We are so grateful to each donor for their generosity.  It is because of you the 2018 Scholarship is $6,000.00.  Brenna Eadie, from Henderson High School, is our recipient and will be attending Drexel University.                
We are humbled and inspired each week by the people and organizations that have reached out and contributed to Stephen’s Foundation.  The testimonials are wonderful and remind us, so clearly, that one life, makes a difference.

2018 SCES sponsorship thank you JUST LEAD PAGE May 2018

Working As A Team- What Does It Mean To Be A Leader?

By Intern Audrey Uebelhoer


Working with new people can be a challenge, especially when multiple people share strong personalities.  How can you work effectively with new people without causing turmoil? This topic has been studied by many experts and scientists globally.  After all, if you cannot work with other people, your successes will be limited.

The most important thing to do when working in a team setting is to be kind.  Although this may sound cliché, no one wants to work with people who treat others unfairly.  Surprisingly, even adults may act as children in a work setting if fairness and equality are not stressed. Even if you are the head of the team, if you are unkind, your group will undoubtedly fail.  To make sure your entire team is being kind, make sure you team feels comfortable sharing things with each other so that issues can be resolved quickly.

To have a well working team of people, you must also ensure clarity.  This means clarifying the goal of your team.  Does everyone fully understand the philosophy of the company, and the main goals of the team?  Clarity must also be present when giving directions to each team member.  Although you should not micromanage any member of the team, make sure each member understands how to perform their specific task.  If they do not, ensure that they feel comfortable enough to ask for help.  Without clarity, you team will be lost in a fog of uncertainty.

Brainstorming for new ideas is another effective way to bring a team closer together.  Having brainstorming sessions brings incredible new ideas to the table, and also creates a better working atmosphere.  Asking each member of the team their own ideas, and listening well, builds trust in your team setting, which will ultimately increase work output.  A team who trusts each other is a team who also works much more effectively.

Above all, agreement is arguably the most crucial aspect of a team that works well. Formulating a strategy to come to an agreement when issues arise will decrease time arguing, and increase work output.  To do this, take a consensus from the group on what should be done when issues do arise BEFORE they do.  What should the consequences be? This also makes all members of the team feel valuable.

Being an effective leader does not mean bossing others around to complete a common goal.  It means being an equal part of the team, just as other members are.  If you ensure your team exudes good values, has excellent communication, and feels comfortable in your work setting, your team will work much more effectively.

Audrey Uebelhoer ESMS Intern Spring 2018

“Giving Back to your Community”

From the ESMS Intern Desk

By: Bhaskari Budhavarapu

I attended my first panel discussion as a guest of Cynthia Ericson on Monday, September 17, 2018. The event discussed thoughts and ideas on “Effective Altruism” by three panelists located in West Chester, PA. The evening was sponsored by Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and TD Bank.

I learned so much about the importance of non-profit organizations and giving back to the community. Effective altruism can be defined as a philosophical and social movement in which it uses evidence, resources and reasoning to find the most effective way to help others. Altruism comes naturally to some; but not all. What are effective ways to help people to care? To volunteer? To give a little? To give a lot? These were a few of the questions we all ask ourselves when it comes to volunteering and giving back, but this event left me with ideas and solutions to answer those questions. We watched a TedTalk by Peter Singer, which discussed examples of Altruism such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The three panelists, Cynthia Ericson, Noel Stanek, Michael Karwic, all are active members with non-profits in which they own or are a part of. They enlightened us with their experiences, struggles, and shared how we can start a non-profit organization through resources right here in Chester County!

The evening was also a wonderful networking opportunity. I spoke with Noel Stanek, where I shared my insights on a service project I’m currently passionate about. I hopethe Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce continues to hold such wonderful and inspiring events.
shri headshot

Teamwork makes the Dreamwork


By ESMS intern, Amanda Koser

Teamwork is a very important aspect of everyday life and a key to success. Teamwork has many benefits because working with others can lead to increased efficiency, the ability to focus different minds on the same problem, and mutual support. People might come up with much more ingenious ideas when working together then working on their own. Working together with your employees can blend complementary strengths. Each team member might bring a different strength to the table that you can utilize to adjust or improve your teamwork methods. Teamwork also can build trust because essentially you are relying on other people to do their share of the work in order to reach a common goal.

Develop a Strategy for your Teamwork!
• Power to make decisions
• Establish goals and objectives
• Productive team meetings
• Make individual progress visible to the whole team
• Make it enjoyable and fun

Power to make decisions
First, I think that everyone should have the power to make decisions. When you collaborate with you team and make decisions together, everyone as a team can be more successful. Letting everyone have the power to make decisions can motivate everyone to effectively work together and come up with creative ideas.

Establish goals and objectives
Research has showed that people tend to do better when they have clear targets to aim at. However, it is important that everyone in the group participates and gives feedback regularly, so the team has clearly defined goals, and this can improve a team’s performance and overall effectiveness.

Productive team meetings
It is important to have productive team meetings. One way that to promote effective teamwork is by using status reports that reflect/ what work has already been done and plans the future work.

Make Individual Progress visible to the whole team
To promote effective teamwork in the workplace, you need to make individual progress visible to the whole team. It’s important for your team to be aware of each other’s progress, so they can depend on one another to get the work done and meet their goals.

Make it enjoyable and fun
Lastly, if you try to have a little fun working as a team it will become an enjoyable process rather than an annoying obligation. This can really change everyone’s attitude about teamwork, motivate each other and boost team spirit.

In conclusion, you are going to have to work as a team in your profession, so you might as well try to be as successful as possible. Teamwork can lead to a lot more getting done than if you were working alone, and it can also establish strong relationships that can help you in the future.

Amanda Koser Candidate Summer 2018

Badges and Bagels Blog Post

By intern Deanna Simonson

With everything going on in the world today sometimes we forget to be thankful for what we have and for those who are working everyday to keep us safe. Over the past few years there has been a lot of backlash on law enforcement. Cynthia and Gary wanted to let our local law enforcement know that they are valued and appreciated everyday for what they do for our community. They thought about different ways they could show their appreciation to our local officers. Finally the idea of “Badges and Bagels” came about. For almost four years the ESMS team has delivered fresh bagels, cream cheese and apples to the Westtown East Goshen Regional Police Department.

I was a little nervous my first time doing the delivery by myself because I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I got there I felt relieved. Everyone that I met in the station was so nice and friendly. They express such gratitude each time when we deliver the bagels. I love when it is a Badges and Bagels day because it always puts me in such a great mood when I get to bring in the bagels and see everyone at the station. They are always so thankful. Even though it is just a small gesture, it means a lot to them and to us as well.

We have developed such a great relationship with the police department over the past couple years. The ESMS team has been fortunate enough to take multiple tours of the station over the years. I was able to go on one in December and it was very exciting and informative. There were a lot of things that I had never realized or thought about before that the officers handle. I was able to tour the entire station, including the inside of a cop car, a jail cell, and a forensics lab which was very exciting.

We are very excited for the success of the event we hosted in May with the Westtown East Goshen Police Department and the Brandywine at Thornbury Community. The event was a community conversation. It allowed discussion between the community and law enforcement officers in an inviting and open environment. This was an opportunity for positive interaction with police officers and gave people the chance to ask questions and learn about the officers’ experiences.

I’m sad that this was my last month doing Badges and Bagels because I graduated . However, it has given me the idea to start my own type of program similar to Badges and Bagels in the future.

ESMS 2017 Team Shot

My First Rotary Meeting

By: Intern /  Jillian Flanagan

Today I attended my first Rotary meeting as a guest of Cynthia Ericson with the Greater West Chester Sunrise Rotary Club.  Everyone was very welcoming to my fellow intern Amanda Koser and me and seemed genuinely excited to share the club’s purpose.  I learned that at every meeting the club members have the opportunity to participate in what they call “Happy Dollars”.  Each person, with a dollar, gets the floor to speak upon something they are thankful for or address what is happening in the community. For example, one member spoke on behalf of a family dealing with a terrible illness.  People brainstormed how the club could contribute.  They decided on signing up to provide meals so the family would have one less thing on their plate (excluding food of course).  This was a small act of kindness that hardly took any time at all to organize, yet it would make a huge difference in this family’s daily life.  That is what I will associate with the Rotary from here on out: making change on the small and large scale without batting an eye.

This meeting inspired me to do more research on the club’s history.  I was surprised to learn how long the Rotary has been around—since 1905!  Since then they have accomplished so much with UNESCO and international club expansion. For the Greater West Chester Sunrise Club, I expect them to continue to grow and obtain an exceptional diversity to better represent their community.  They have the potential to have a massive outreach.  I hope they continue to effectively use this potential to benefit the greater West Chester area and to inspire others to contribute to the positivity they spread.

Jillian Flanagan headshot

The Power of Getting LinkedUp on LinkedIn

By intern Deanna Simonsen

If you are not familiar with LinkedIn by now, you should highly consider learning more about it. LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social media networking platform. It allows you to connect with people and companies and further your professional network. This May they celebrated their 15th year in operation. LinkedIn went public in May of 2011 and since then has continued to grow.

Ilinkedin like to compare LinkedIn to Facebook, but in a much more professional manner. Like Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to connect with people who you know and don’t know, send messages and post updates. It allows you to create content such as articles and share pictures and videos. You can re-share content that other users have posted as well as engage with that content. You can also send direct messages to other users who you are connected with.

I think LinkedIn is so important, especially for college students because of the capabilities of finding a career. You can connect with employers, employees and companies. Being able to directly connect with an employee of a company that you might want to apply to is very important. It can give you an insight into what working for a company might be like. Employers can also reach out to you directly and vice versa.

You can even search for jobs in a specific field in a specific area and then apply directly to those positions all on LinkedIn. I think that is incredible. They will also send you monthly emails of positions that might be appealing to you. What makes LinkedIn even more amazing is that it is totally free.

LinkedIn has over 500 million members and over half of those members log in every month. Many of these users are senior level influencers and in decision-making positions for their companies. This is just one of many aspects that makes LinkedIn a powerful tool.

I have received a lot of messages on LinkedIn from employers and recruiters that have led to over the phone interviews. I wasn’t actively looking for a career until now, so I will be putting a lot more focus on these messages and the back and forth communication. It is such a powerful tool and I would highly suggest that everyone gets a LinkedIn. Some people think that it is only for people in the business industry, but that is not true, everyone can benefit from having a profile. Who knows, it might help you find your future career!

ESMS 2017 Team Shot

How Do You Choose The Right Internship?

By Intern Audrey Uebelhoer

Although it may seem cumbersome to find an internship, you may find yourself in a position where you must choose between multiple opportunities. You shouldn’t have to sell yourself short to find the right fit for you! Before making your final decision, consider all of your options very carefully….
DON’T just follow the money

Even though a paid internship sounds extremely appealing, it may not always be the best option for you. Instead of immediately taking the paid option over the unpaid, do research on both companies. Do their values reflect your own? Unpaid internships do not always mean you will be making copies and going on coffee runs. It may just mean it is not in the company’s budget to hire more staff. These companies took time to interview with you, and hire you. You are a crucial aspect of the team if you are paid OR unpaid.

Are you ready for the time commitment?
Time management is a skill you will need in your career, no matter what path you may take. Really take a look at yourself prior to saying yes to ANY job or internship opportunity. Will you be able to do what is asked of you? Are you sure you are ready for full-time? There is nothing worse than an intern not taking their job seriously. Now you have wasted not only the company’s time, but also your own time. Make sure you completely understand what you are getting into prior to saying yes.


Do your research!
Before you go on a picnic, you check the weather! Before you take an internship opportunity, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Prior to saying yes to any company, you should know the following things:
• The company mission statement
• Their values
• What specifically you as an intern will be doing for the company
• Who your supervisor will be
• What key skills you will learn from the internship they are offering

Internships are essential. To ensure you are choosing the right one, do your research and hold your values close. With these things in mind, you will choose an amazing opportunity for yourself.


Audrey Uebelhoer ESMS Intern Spring 2018

Community Service-ALWAYS a Good Idea!

By ESMS Intern, Deanna Simonsen

During the Holiday season people start to think about the many benefits of giving back. This can be volunteering your time, money or gifts.  If you have ever considered doing community service there is no better time than now to start! There are many different ways that you can get involved with your community.

Volunteering and community service is actually beneficial for your health. People who volunteer have lower rates of depression later in life compared to those that do not volunteer, mortality rates are even lower for those who volunteer. Depending on the type of volunteering there can be physical and social benefits as well.

Many people think that they are too busy to volunteer, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. Take a few days or even just a day every month to volunteer for a few hours. If this is still not an option consider monetary donations or collecting non-perishables for your local food cupboard. Do a little research on the local organizations in your community. Many of these places will have “wish lists” of things they need. Each time you go to the grocery store pick up a few items on one of these lists to take to a local organization. These organizations will be extremely grateful even if it doesn’t seem like a lot.

It is also very important to get the entire family involved in volunteering. It is very important for children and teenagers to understand the benefits and importance of giving back to their community. It teaches them social responsibility and exposes them to diversity. They have the chance to develop and improve their communication skills as well as critical thinking skills. It is real world situations that school does not prepare them to experience. They can develop an appreciation for everything that they have.

There are even college admissions benefits to volunteering that teens should consider. Volunteering looks very good on college applications and resumes. It shows that you are able to go above and beyond what the typical person does. It is even a good topic for college essays.

Volunteering also opens up new doors and opportunities. It gives you the chance to find what you are passionate about. It is also a chance to create life long friendships with people who you otherwise would not have met.

If you aren’t sure where to begin or what type of volunteering you would like to be a part of do some research on local organizations in your community. There are even organizations dedicated to different types of community service such as Rotary International. We often forget how lucky we are for all that we have; community service is a great way to make you appreciate the little things in life. It gives you a chance to step into someone else’s shoes and make their life a little better. A few hours of service could be enough to change someone else’s view on life. Not only will you feel good about yourself, but you will make others feel good as well.

The Importance of Internships

From the ESMS Intern’s Desk

By Deanna Simonsen


ESMS 2017 Team Shot

I never would have thought that I would actually be thankful for the requirement of a fifth year in college. However, if I had graduated in four years, like most other students do, I would not have had the opportunity to do an internship. In just the past few months I have realized how important an internship truly is.

Up until around December of 2016 I didn’t think an internship was that crucial to my career. I realized that I didn’t have a lot of work experience and while I was actively involved on campus, that wouldn’t be enough to make me stand out to future employers. I decided that I should look for an internship to better prepare myself for a job outside of college, and I also knew it would look good on my resume.

While scrolling on Facebook I came across a posting from a girl that went to West Chester University. She stated that her employer was looking for an intern for the next semester. I immediately messaged her and got a little more information about the company and the position. I also did some research of my own. The more I looked into ESMS the more I fell in love with the company. Cynthia is involved with so many different causes outside of the business itself. I really liked that, and I liked the fact that I would get to learn more about the Chester County area. I thought a home-based company would be very beneficial for an internship because of the opportunity for one-on-one time.

I have learned an invaluable amount from just a few short months with ESMS. The opportunity to be involved with different causes for and outside of the company has also been very exciting. Working for a home-based company has been so beneficial and rewarding. I don’t think that a corporate job would have had nearly the same impact as ESMS has had on me.

I feel overall so much more prepared and confident than I did when I first arrived at ESMS. I have learned skills that I never thought I would have, but ones that will certainly help me in day-to-day life. Having an internship has put me one step above other students that have not had the same opportunity. I know now that when I begin to search for jobs upon graduating I will be more qualified than I would’ve been without an internship. Employers love to see internships on resumes because not only are they a great and valuable experience, but also they show that a student has gone above and beyond.

As my time at West Chester University has gone on it seems that more and more students are starting to realize the importance of internships. Upperclassmen typically are more interested in looking for internships than underclassman. However, I actually wish that I had begun looking during my junior or even sophomore year. I don’t think you can ever have enough experience before entering the search for a professional career. The earlier you start to look for an internship the more opportunities you will come across and the more knowledge you will gain.

While I do think a lot of it depends on your major as far as the drive to get an internship, I believe all students can benefit. I have noticed that a lot of students in the marketing department look for internships just simply to make them stand out from other applicants. In some cases with other majors, internships are almost a requirement depending on the specific field you are trying to get into.

I encourage everyone to think about pursuing an internship. There are a lot of different options for internships. Not all internships are non-paid coffee runners.  However, it is important to talk to current employees and interns at the company you are considering so that you can better understand what the position entails.

At West Chester University you can even take an internship for credits, even if it is paid.  Many different companies offer them as well. Anywhere from a small home-based company, to a billion dollar corporate business might offer internships. It is important to do a little research and find where you might fit. So whether you want it simply for the experience, to earn credits, or for the money, consider an internship.


**If you are a student at West Chester University consider using the Ram Career Network to look for your next internship, best of luck!