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Erie County Law Foundation Awards 2018 Pa. Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship

Posted on July 17th, 2018 at 9:32 AM
Erie County Law Foundation Awards 2018 Pa. Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship
A future Erie County lawyer who will be attending the University of Virginia School of Law this fall is the 2018 recipient of the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship.
McDowell High School graduate Emma Swabb, who in 2016 earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Washington and Lee University, is this year's successful aspirant for the scholarship, administered and awarded for the Roberts Family by the Erie County Law Foundation.
The Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Committee found that competition for the 2018 scholarship award was again extraordinarily keen and represented another inspiring field of aspirants in the more than quarter-century history of the award.  But ultimately, the Committee found that Emma, who graduated from college Summa Cum Laude with an overall 3.89 grade-point average and had notable financial need, exemplified the many qualities demonstrated during the long and distinguished career of the Erie lawyer and judge who rose to lead the Commonwealth's highest court, becoming one of the nation's most respected jurists.
In addition to awarding the 2018 scholarship to Swabb, the committee, citing the academic success of Erie County's Colleen O'Leary Devine at the University of Michigan Law School, and Kristen E. Elia at Boston University's School of Law, renewed the law school scholarships of both of these Roberts Scholarship awardees, Colleen for her second year of law school, and Kristen for her third year.
"The committee as extremely impressed with each of this year's applicants, a very mature, talented, and bright group of first-year law school students," said Sandra Brydon Smith, the Foundation's executive director. "However, Emma's undergraduate background, her academic excellence, her activism with important issues, her diverse interests and experiences, and the course she has set for herself and her future in law made her the choice."
In her scholarship application, Swabb wrote there are highly personal motivations for her "fierce dedication ... to pursue a public interest law career."
While listening to a college lecture on wrongful convictions, she wrote, "I sat naïve and aghast to learn that not all crimes carry an assumption of innocence, depending upon who you are, where you are from, and what you look like ... Following that pivotal class, I dug deeper to learn more about the undeniable roles of race, socioeconomic status, and psychological factors in criminal justice. I explored these topics in depth through my psychology major and poverty studies minor, which led to internships at organizations such as Georgia Justice Project, immersive coursework, including a class taken alongside inmates at a Virginia state prison, and extracurricular activities that broadened my perspective on topics related to criminal justice and beyond." 
Emma explained that "these experiences altered me on a personal level, instilling a drive and dedication to serve those most in need of empathy."
Although grades, class standings, standardized test scores, and financial need are all weighed when considering scholarship awards, motivation, personal interviews, community service, passion for the legal profession and broader interests are also taken into consideration by committee members.

Scholarship Committee (pictured) includes l-r, Attorneys Brad Enterline, David Zurn, Bill Speros, Jack Mehler, Mary Alfieri Richmond, Tina Fryling; lay members Jeff Pinski and Kathleen Horan. Not pictured: Daan Braveman, Mick Livingston.