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Landmarks Awards Four Scholarships to College-Bound Students

During the Landmarks Scholarship Celebration on June 3 at Chatham University, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Trustee and Scholarship Program Founder David Brashear announced the award of scholarships to four high-achieving students who are involved in their communities and value Pittsburgh’s history, architecture, and/or landscape design. The Scholarship Celebration marked the tenth anniversary of the scholarship program and raised more than $75,000 for the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Scholarship Fund. PNC, BNY Mellon, and The David and Janet Brashear Foundation sponsored the June 3 event. 


Four students, out of 36 applicants this year, were selected to received $4,000 scholarships:

·      Dawna M. Gilvarry of Schenley High School;

·      Christa L. Pluff of Allderdice High School;

·      Sarah J. Rogers of Woodland Hills High School; and

·      Scott A. Schorr of Mt. Lebanon High School

 (Brief profiles on each student below.)

David Brashear conceived of the Landmarks Scholarship Program in 1998 with several goals in mind: he hoped to build relationships with capable young people who share the values of our organization; he wanted to provide financial support to qualified students who were pursuing a college education; and he hoped to attract young people who had the potential to become future leaders of Landmarks and of other community-based organizations throughout the region. 


Since 1999, the we have granted 29 scholarships to a remarkable group of young people. Sixteen students are Pittsburgh Public School graduates and thirteen are graduates from other schools within Allegheny County. Seventeen winners have already graduated from prestigious colleges, and at least four scholarship recipients are living and working in Pittsburgh: two are architects, one is an engineer, one is a bridge inspector, and several are looking for jobs in the region.


The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Scholarship Program is offered each year.  Applications for the 2008-09 school year will be available in Jan. 2009.  Applicants must:

·      be a resident of Allegheny County;

·      be a high school senior who has been accepted to a college or university;

·      have a cumulative Grade Point Average at the end of the first semester senior year of 3.25 or greater; and

·      write an essay on a certain topic, complete an application, and submit two letters of recommendation.


2008 Landmarks Scholarship Recipients: Student Profiles


Dawna M. Gilvarry


A graduate of Schenley High School, Dawna will be attending Seton Hill University to study International Relations.

         Described as “positive, optimistic and above all empathetic,” Dawna has volunteered at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, and has worked at the Jewish Community Center, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and as a camp counselor. At Schenley she was a member of the swim team, a writer for the school newspaper, and a member of the Interact Club. Dawna was a featured speaker at “Strong Women, Strong Girls,” a mentoring program for high-risk young girls in the Pittsburgh Public Schools.

         In her Landmarks Scholarship essay Dawna wrote: “…you can see the beauty in our architecture. History especially hits home because unlike many people I enjoy hearing about what life was like in different times. When I look into the past I can see where the future rose….Whether it’s Pittsburgh or somewhere across the country I can value the fine art in architecture and landscape. When I go downtown and look up, I am lost in a different world. …Pittsburgh has so many surprises in its older buildings… .

         “…my most unforgettable experience as a child was riding the incline and viewing the city from afar.”


Christa L. Pluff


A graduate of Allderdice High School, Christa will be attending Georgetown University to study Political Science and Sociology.

         Christa was a National Merit Finalist and recipient, in 2007, of the Chatham College Rachel Carson Book Award for Environmental Science and Research. She served as an Allderdice representative for Students for a Greener Pittsburgh and was a writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Newswire. She has volunteered at Magee-Women’s Hospital and at the Frick Environmental Center.

         Christa’s scholarship essay explains her love of Hazelwood––“a small Pittsburgh neighborhood [with] all of the shops and restaurants, the churches and businesses, the post office and, interestingly, two funeral homes within a block of each other.” She describes the positive influence that the Hazelwood Initiative has had on “adding some life and culture back to today’s neighborhood,” and laments the media’s often one-dimensional portrayal of the community when it “highlights isolated acts of violence.”

         “Perhaps it is the continued inequity fielded as a Hazelwood resident or perhaps it is the activism undertaken by neighbors such as my own grandmother…that has shaped my identity as a resolute, politically active individual. Regardless of the origin, my surroundings have fashioned my belief in the power of the individual and the importance of an education and giving back to the community that, regardless of its faults, determined who you are.”   


Sarah J. Rogers


A graduate of Woodland Hills High School, Sarah will be attending Fordham University to study History.

         Recognized as a “distinguished scholar” and “best young playwright,” Sarah was named a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review East Young Achiever and was commended for her performance in the 2008 National Merit Scholarship Competition. She has volunteered with her church and worked as a clerk at Thomson, Rhodes & Cowie, P.C. 

         In her scholarship essay, Sarah writes that “Some of my fondest memories are of the trips my father and I would take: early Saturday morning adventures to ride the incline up to Mt. Washington or to wander around Point State Park.” During those times she realizes that her “own passion for history was beginning to take root.”

She sees the “pride and heart throughout Pittsburgh, past and present. I see it in the early organization and passion of the Homestead strikers…I see it in the inclines we continue to operate and in every ‘Historical Landmark’ sign I walk past. I am beginning to see it, too, in myself….”


Scott A. Schorr


A graduate of Mt. Lebanon High School, Scott will be attending Emory University, pursuing his interests in Political Science, History, and Music.

         Elected Treasurer of the High School Student Government and Vice-President of the School Orchestra, Scott is a National Honor Society member and recipient of numerous science and musical awards. He was a co-captain of the Debate Team, a Model United Nations delegate, and a volunteer at the Heinz History Center for four years in the Education Department.

         In his scholarship essay, Scott describes his experience in leading a group of inner-city youth through the Points in Time exhibit at the Heinz History Center. “Early in our tour, I sensed that my visitors did not share the same level of interest in the Colonial era that I did. But as we shifted our focus to more recent decades…it became evident that their enthusiasm for history was no less than my own. My visitors shared with me their own passions, a sense of excitement about the passage of the Underground Railroad through Western Pennsylvania and the proud heritage of the Pittsburgh Crawfords and Homestead Grays…. I reflected on the fact that my visitors now lived in the neighborhood where my great-grandparents had first resided…as immigrants to this country…. I was able to see history in a different light, impressed by the importance to my guests of the Civil Rights Movement and the enthusiasm and reverence with which they embraced it. …They provided me with an important lesson in diversity that I had yet to discern from the pages of a history book.” 

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

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Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633