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2021 Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship

Posted on July 21st, 2021 at 1:05 PM

A future Erie County lawyer who will be attending law school in Pittsburgh this fall is the 2021 recipient of the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship.

            Grace Marie Weichler, who earned her Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations with a minor in writing from Kent State University, is the 2021 successful aspirant for the prestigious scholarship, administered and awarded in memory of PA. Supreme Court Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts  by the Erie County Law Foundation. Weichler, of Erie, will attend Duquesne University School of Law in the fall.

The Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Committee found competition for the annual scholarship was again extremely keen and perhaps the most competitive in the award’s quarter century history, representing another inspiring field of local aspirants. Ultimately the Committee found that Weichler, who graduated from college Summa Cum Laude with a 3.96 grade-point average, exemplified the many qualities demonstrated during the long and distinguished career of Chief Justice Roberts, the Erie lawyer and judge who rose to lead  Pennsylvania’s highest court and became one of the nation’s most respected jurists.

In addition to awarding the 2021 scholarship to Weichler, the Committee also cited the academic success of Erie County’s Colleen Campbell at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law and David DeFelice at George Washington University School of Law and renewed Roberts Scholarships for their third year of law school, and Paul Bowers’ Roberts Scholarship for his second year at the University of Virginia School of Law.

“The Committee had another difficult job this year, given the academic credentials and potential talent of our applicants,” said Julie S. Kresge, Erie County Law Foundation Executive Director. “In fact, Committee members agreed that the candidates were among the most qualified and talented in the award’s history. It was a very tough call, but all were extremely impressed with Grace’s undergraduate background, her academic excellence, high ideals in respect to important issues, her diverse interests and experiences, and the course she has set for herself and her future in law.”  In particular, the Committee was impressed with Weichler’s confident demeanor during her recent in-person interview.

In her scholarship application, Weichler wrote that she is motivated to help those historically oppressed.  “Because my ambition to succeed in the legal profession is rooted in the desire to use the law as a means to protect oppressed people in our society, I think that I will be drawn more toward the public sector. I find myself interested in constitutional law, criminal defense, and women’s rights … lawyers practicing in these areas need compassion and empathy. Lawyers need not just to be cognizant of the challenges faced by oppressed demographics, but understand the severity of the way in which those challenges saturate everyday life.”

Although grades, class standings and standardized test scores are all weighed when considering scholarship awards, motivation, personal interviews, community service, passion for the legal profession and broader interests are also given serious consideration by Committee members.

Each year, the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Committee meets to interview and consider applicants who are becoming first-year law students and also to consider scholarship renewals for previous recipients. While there is no mandate that scholarship winners return to Erie County to practice law, the committee encourages local law careers.

The committee includes attorneys: Daan Braveman, President of Nazareth College; Bradley Enterline; Tina M. Fryling; Dennis Haines; Patrick Michael Livingston; John J. Mehler; Mary Alfieri Richmond; William Speros; Scott T. Stroupe and David M. Zurn; as well as community member Jeff Pinski, formerly of Edinboro University and the Erie Times-News.