Family, friends start scholarship to honor student
In honor of a community activist and former student, the University, friends and family of Pamela Schmidt — a University student murdered last month — are teaming up to form a scholarship in her honor.
Schmidt was allegedly murdered on March 13 by her boyfriend William Parisio, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, in his Cranford, N.J., home. Parisio is awaiting trial.
"Pamela touched the lives of hundreds of people, always seeking ways to bring together family and friends and to assist others in need," said David Finegold, dean of the School of Management and Labor Relations. "To recognize and remember Pamela's legacy, the School of Management and Labor Relations is proud to establish the Pamela Schmidt Award for Outstanding Service to the Community."
The scholarship will be awarded to a School of Management and Labor Relations student transitioning from an undergraduate program at the University to a graduate program, said Mark Magyar, one of Schmidt's former professors. The student must demonstrate academic excellence and strong community leadership skills both inside and outside the University community.
Schmidt, who was a School of Management and Labor Relations senior, was also an undergraduate transitioning into a master's degree program at the University. She double majored in psychology and labor studies, with a minor in human resources management.
The award is intended to reflect Schmidt's community involvement and her academic excellence, said Magyar, a part-time lecturer at the University.
"She was not only a strong academic student but also somebody who was caring and involved in the community," he said. "We'd be recognizing someone based on leadership and commitment as well as academic achievement."
Created by her family and friends along with the University, the scholarship will be an endowment, where they hope to raise $50,000 total, Magyar said. About $5,000 will be awarded per student.
Magyar said they hope the Rutgers University Foundation, which will fund the award on a dollar-to-dollar basis, can match it.
The group will set up several fundraising events like restaurant nights in Schmidt's hometown Warren, N.J., this week, said Jennifer Rodriguez, Schmidt's best friend since middle school.
Schmidt's high school, Watchung Hills Regional High School, will also hold a walk-a-thon on June 11. On April 29, a movie will be screened at the Livingston Campus Center, said Rodriguez, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
The School of Management and Labor Relations will table at Rutgers Day to sell bracelets in Schmidt's honor with the message ‘Fearless, Selfless and Ambitious' — three qualities Rodriguez said best represent Schmidt's personality.
"She was really the type of person who exemplified anything you'd want in an award," she said. "She was fearless in everything she took on. She was selfless because she always thought about other people, and she was very ambitious because she had such a drive that most people her age didn't."
Several companies Schmidt worked and interned for have also sent donations, including SiriusXM Radio, Rodriguez said.
Stephanie Schmidt, Pamela's sister, said the family thought this was the best way to honor her since the award would help others — something Pamela always did even while juggling academics, a job, an internship and volunteer work each semester.
"Having this scholarship is a way she is still going to be impacting people," said Stephanie Schmidt, a University of Delaware first-year student.
She said Pamela was a hard-working and generous person who often helped many of her own friends find scholarships, another reason she knows this award would have made her sister proud.
"She was ambitious. She was such a go-getter and always wanted to be the top at everything," Stephanie Schmidt said. "At every job she had, she was always the best — she was just such a hard worker."
Rodriguez and Magyar said she was never overlooked, as she had a charismatic personality and was always one of the top students in all of her classes.
"Pam was the type of person who would light up the room," Rodriguez said. "She wasn't somebody that you wouldn't notice. Everyone always liked Pam."
Finegold encourages people to participate in the cause, whether it is through a donation or just by showing support.
"Anyone who would like to contribute, we would love for them to be part of this effort," he said. "It's not just the amount that matters. We'd love to just have more people involved."