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Erie County Law Foundation awards 2019 PA Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarships

Posted on July 24th, 2019 at 4:13 PM

Two future Erie County lawyers who will be attending law schools this fall are the 2019 recipients of the Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship.

Collegiate Academy graduate Colleen Campbell, who recently earned Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Economics and Public Policy at Gettysburg College, and Mercyhurst Prep alumni David DeFelice, who graduated this year from Duquesne University with BA Degrees in Political Science and International Relations, are the 2019 successful aspirants for the prestigious scholarships, administered and awarded for the Roberts Family by the Erie County Law Foundation.

Campbell will attend Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law in the fall, while DeFelice will be enrolled in the law school at George Washington University.

The Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Committee found that competition for the 2019 scholarship award was again extremely keen and represented another inspiring field of local aspirants in the more than quarter century history of the award.  Ultimately, the Committee found that Colleen and David, both of whom graduated from college with high grade-point averages, exemplified the many qualities demonstrated during the long and distinguished career of Chief Justice Roberts, the Erie lawyer and judge who rose to lead the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s highest court, becoming one of the nation’s most respected jurists.

In addition to awarding the 2019 scholarships to Campbell and DeFelice, the committee, citing the academic success of Erie County’s Colleen O’Leary Devine at the University of Michigan Law School, renewed her Roberts Scholarship for her third year of law school.

 “The committee had another difficult job this year, given the academic credentials and potential talent of our applicants,” said Sandra Brydon Smith, ECBA executive director. “It was a very tough call, but all were extremely impressed with Colleen’s and David’s undergraduate backgrounds, their academic excellence, their high ideals in respect to important issues, their diverse interests and experiences, and the course they have set for themselves and their future in law.”

In her scholarship application, Campbell wrote she has been motivated throughout her life by personal experiences dating back to grade school, giving her insight to those less fortunate.

“Because it is my goal to someday practice law in Erie, I would like to contribute to the legitimization of community development practices in the city,” she wrote.

DeFelice, in his essay, wrote, “I have always enjoyed studying the inner workings of government, which is why I decided to major in political science … I knew from a young age, before taking any course in college, that law was going to be something I wanted to practice, but taking actual courses in the subject matter solidified my interest in becoming an attorney.”

He wrote that his current “fascination” is with public interest law.  “The idea of impacting, for the better, those who are marginalized, has a certain appeal.”

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 Pennsylvania Chief Justice Samuel J. Roberts Scholarship Committee meets to interview and consider applicants who are becoming first-year law students and also 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 whenever possible.

The committee, includes Attorneys Daan Braveman, president of Nazareth College, Tina M. Fryling, Bradley Enterline, Dennis Haines, Patrick Michael Livingston, Mary Alfieri Richmond,  Scott T. Stroupe, John J. Mehler, David M. Zurn and William Speros, and lay representatives Kathleen Horan, formerly of Stairways Behavioral Health, and Jeff Pinski, formerly of Edinboro University and the Erie Times-News.