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Scholarship recipient carries on Acheson legacy

Posted on May 16, 2016

It’s scholarship season at the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, and many lucky students are grateful to learn they’ll head off to college with a little less debt looming over their heads after graduation.

Christopher Penzien was one such lucky scholarship recipient between 1998 and 2000. He received a total of $9,000 from the Community Foundation’s Howard A. Acheson Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Created in 1998 by Dr. James Acheson in memory of his father, Howard Archibald Acheson, this fund provides scholarships for students training for careers in chemistry or engineering.

“The scholarship was very helpful in pursuing my undergraduate degree,” Penzien said. “I am very thankful for Dr. (James) Acheson for helping local students pursue studies in chemistry.  College level chemistry courses are very time consuming due to the lab courses, in addition to being very challenging academically.  Having the scholarship allowed me to focus my time and efforts on my studies.”

Penzien graduated from Grand Valley State University with honors in 2002, where he earned his secondary teaching certification in chemistry and German.

“I taught chemistry for four years before transitioning into the quality control chemistry lab at Perrigo, a pharmaceutical company in Allegan, Michigan,” he said.  Penzien held positions of increasing responsibility and eventually became a manager in the lab.

While working at Perrigo, he continued his education and earned a master’s in Quality Assurance and Regulatory Science from Northwestern University in 2015.

In November of 2014, he accepted a transfer to the lab at Perrigo New York, which is based in the New York City borough of The Bronx. 

“There I manage the chemistry and microbiology labs as well as the calibration group,” Penzien said.

He currently lives in Manhattan.

Since its creation, the Howard A. Acheson Memorial Scholarship Fund has given away $527,398 to more than 148 students.

Howard Acheson earned a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 1923 at Cornell University and in 1926 he began work at his father’s company, the Acheson Oildag Co., as a sales engineer and moved up the ranks from there.

In 1940, he acquired the company and changed the name to Acheson Colloids Corporation, where directors elected him president and chief executive officer. In early 1952 the name again changed to Acheson Industries, Inc., and Howard Acheson continued as president, CEO and chairman of the board until 1971. He remained chairman of the board until his death in 1975.

Howard Acheson was also one of the founders of the Port Huron District Foundation, which today continues on as the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.

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