Massachusetts native Samantha Lawyer, C’14, dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and knew Penn was the place to begin that journey upon her first visit to campus.
“When I arrived for a tour, I could tell how vibrant of a community Penn was both academically and socially, and could see myself easily fitting into the rich fabric of extracurricular activities the school offers,” said Sam.
A first-generation college student, Sam and her family had concerns about the cost of an Ivy League education. Support from the Roth Family Endowed Scholarship made it possible for Sam to attend Penn and reinforced her commitment to make the most of her Penn experience.
Pursuing Her Passions
“The scholarship allowed me to devote my time to pursuing the things I am passionate about, like dance, travel and media,” said Sam. Those passions have been realized in such forms as membership and eventually a leadership position in the Arts House Dance Company; a semester abroad in London; an internship at the local NBC television station; and volunteer work with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. “Without the scholarship, that financial stress, having to work one or more part-time jobs in addition to my schoolwork—it would have ruled out the possibility of dancing or internships.”
Emboldened by her Penn experiences, Sam’s career focus became clear—she now intends to practice entertainment law.
“Prior to Penn, my career goals seemed unrealistic,” said Sam. “Achieving the successes that I have has given me confidence and assured me that hard work really does produce results. I never dreamed of the professional focus I’d obtain or the rewarding work that I’d accomplish academically and through dance here at Penn.”
Sam also credits the scholarship program for the opportunities it has provided, noting that her relationship with the Roths, much like her career focus, has blossomed throughout her time at Penn. “My relationship with the Roths is a special relationship that makes me grateful for the scholarship program and what it creates,” said Sam.
Joining the Penn Family
It’s a relationship also cherished by the Roth family. An active and engaged graduate, Steve Roth, W’66, attends many Penn events, but his favorites are the Scholarship Celebrations, held on campus in the fall and in New York City in the spring, where scholarship donors meet their students.
“I haven’t missed a scholarship event in I can’t tell you how many years. It’s so moving to hear from your scholar, from other scholars. Every person in that room—not just the speakers—has an important story, an individual story, and you get to hear that at these events. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of these extraordinarily talented students who will have a tremendous impact on our society and the future.”
To hear the stories of the scholarship students who spoke at the Fall 2013 Scholarship Celebration, watch the videos.
“Sam is a great example of somebody who really made the most of her years at Penn,” continued Steve. “She knew what she wanted when she came to Penn, but she was able to experience things in her time here that contributed to broadening and deepening her interests as well as helping her determine where she wants to go in life. I’ve watched scholarship students come to Penn in the beginning with lots of ambition, but with a kind of wide-eyed uncertainty. Seeing Sam get involved in dance and grow that involvement into a leadership role in the dance company, to continue that even as she studied abroad, to mentor other students, to see how she has developed her community service activities, from Big Brothers, Big Sisters to local community schools—it’s wonderful to watch that grow and crystallize.
“Sam is somebody who obviously is very talented, obviously has perspective on the world and herself and now knows what she wants to do, and we want to help and we want to see where that goes. Sam’s a part of the Penn family. And that doesn’t end with graduation.”
A Family Commitment to Educational Opportunity
Established in 2006 by Steve, Marsha Roth, and their children, Andrew Roth, C’93, and Lisa Roth Kerrigan, C’95, in honor of Steve’s 40th reunion, the Roth Family Endowed Scholarship provides financial support to an undergraduate who would otherwise be unable to meet the cost of a Penn education.
“I had the wonderful opportunity of benefiting from Penn’s extraordinary resources and education, and so did my two children,” said Steve. “My wife was a scholarship student at another university, and now sits on their foundation board. Our entire family fully recognizes the importance of educational opportunity, and what this University has meant in our lives. We wanted to give others the opportunity to benefit in the same way.”