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PHLF Awards Six Scholarships to College-Bound Students

by Louise Sturgess
June 12, 2009

On June 12, during a luncheon celebration, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) awarded a record number of scholarships to high-achieving college-bound students who are involved in their communities and value Pittsburgh’s history, architecture, and landscape design. “We received 68 applications this year,” said PHLF Trustee and program founder David Brashear, “and were able to award six scholarships, thanks to a successful fund-raising event last year that gave us the resources to expand our scholarship program and several new trustee commitments this year. In these challenging economic times, we know our support is needed more than ever.” The six scholarship recipients are:

  • Matthew G. Boyas of Upper St. Clair High School;
  • Keri S. Dantley of West Allegheny High School;
  • Eric J. Dingess of Sewickley Academy;
  • Sarah Joy Gilmer of Pittsburgh Schenley High School;
  • Laura M. Greenberg of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School; and
  • Nicholas P. Stamatakis of Montour High School.

The scholarship, for book and tuition expenses only, has a maximum value of $4,000, and is made payable to the recipient’s college/university over a four-year period. “The Landmarks Scholarship Program is helping our organization build relationships with capable young people who share our values,” said Louise Sturgess, Executive Director. “It is the culmination of our educational programs for many thousands of students (K-12) in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and gives students an incentive to excel in school, become involved in their communities, and explore their city in a meaningful way.”

Since 1999, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has granted 35 scholarships to a remarkable group of young people. Eighteen students are Pittsburgh Public School graduates and seventeen are graduates from other schools within Allegheny County. Eighteen winners have already graduated from prestigious colleges, and at least five scholarship recipients are living and working in Pittsburgh: three are architects, one is an engineer, and one is a bridge inspector.

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation Scholarship Program is offered each year. Applications for the 2009-10 school year will be available in Jan. 2010. 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.

2009 Landmarks Scholarship Recipients: Student Profiles

Matthew G. Boyas

A graduate of Upper St. Clair High School, Matt Boyas will be attending Dartmouth College to study History.

Matt completed the rigorous International Baccalaureate Diploma program at his school, has served as secretary of the National Honor Society, editor-in-chief of the school literary magazine, and has been active in the music department. He also volunteered as the head junior docent at “Woodville Plantation,” a National Historic Landmark in Collier Township, where he “displayed leadership, integrity, and initiative far beyond the typical high school volunteer,” according to Rob Windhorst, President of Neville House Associates.

Matt’s scholarship essay describes how, as a relatively new Pittsburgher, he and his family took steps to learn “about the background and traditions of our new home…my years devoted to historical preservation and interpretation at Woodville have opened my eyes to the history that surrounds me on a daily basis…preserving history takes dedication, planning, foresight, and resources, and I am privileged to have been able to contribute to this effort in a small way in my hometown.”

Keri S. Dantley

A graduate of West Allegheny High School, Keri Dantley will be attending Kent State University to study Sports Administration.

Keri divides her time between a number of activities, including student government, sports, a management position at her part-time job, and volunteer work. She has participated in mission trips and youth ministry at her church and has worked in the guidance department at her school.

As a member of West Allegheny’s Track and Field team, she has competed successfully at the state level, including being made a member of the All-State team. She has been com-mended for her “calm, responsible, and respectful attitude in potentially stressful situations.”

In her scholarship essay, Keri describes a sunset over Downtown Pittsburgh with a sense of awe: “The golden orange sun illuminates the dark tinted glass” of the buildings in the Golden Triangle, as “vibrant colors dance across the rivers’ shores.” Pittsburghers “thrive because of the city that they are in…A city driven to succeed.”

Eric J. Dingess

A graduate of Sewickley Academy, Eric Dingess will be attending the University of Pittsburgh to study Political Science.

Eric distinguished himself at Sewickley as “one of the most respectful, persistent, and diligent students” in the school, according to faculty. Very soon after transferring to the school, he was “thriving in [the] vigorous academic environment.” He was president of the Mock Trial Club, and was involved with the ACLU, Boy Scouts, and local soccer leagues.

In his scholarship essay, Eric described some of Pittsburgh’s great buildings, noting “how a city’s architecture can bring pride to its people.” He tied the evolution of buildings in Pittsburgh to the need for flexibility and adaptability. For example, he described the “daunting task” of lowering the Grant Building’s lobby as “a great example of human ingenuity.”

Sarah Joy Gilmer

A graduate of Pittsburgh Schenley High School, Sarah Gilmer will be attending American University to study Economics.

Sarah has been active in school and worship bands, the Girl Scouts, and her church.

Her volunteer work has included the Pittsburgh Project and relief work in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She has an “intense focus” and “works very hard to ensure success,” including completing classes in Macro- and Microeconomics at the Community College of Allegheny County and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively.

Sarah’s family was a “prominent force and voice in the community,” including being the owners of one of the first privately-owned, small, African American businesses in Pittsburgh. Sarah writes, “My family history and their connection to the development of Pittsburgh greatly influences me to do my best to not only develop the city, but the world.”

Laura M. Greenberg

A graduate of Pittsburgh Allderdice High School, Laura Greenberg will be attending the University of Miami to study Architecture.

Laura has consistently shown an “intense personal involvement” with architecture. She participated in CMU’s Architecture Explorations from 3rd through 10th grades and in an after-school class related to urban planning. A member of the National Honor Society, she exhibits a “curiosity and depth of perception” that helps her “excel… in every phase of classroom activity.”

Laura’s scholarship essay describes the many interactions with architecture that she has had. She notes the difference between the neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. “The most interesting thing that I have realized in my explorations is the way in which the neighborhoods relate to one another, and that interest helped me decide to become an architect.” She also emphasizes the way neighborhoods change over time. For example, Lawrenceville “stands as a testament to the power of urban planning and architecture, while still retaining its identity and reflecting its history.”

Nicholas P. Stamatakis

A graduate of Montour High School, Nicholas Stamatakis will be attending the University of Pittsburgh and plans to double major in engineering and music.

As one of Nick’s teachers noted, “While Nick is a stellar student, he is also very active in our community.” Besides being a member of the National Honor Society, Nick became an Eagle Scout in 2008, and was elected as president of both the Law Team and the Marching/Jazz/Concert Band. He is actively involved in music, serving as an accompanist for the chorus in addition to playing the saxophone.

Nick’s scholarship essay describes the unique combination of geography and architecture that defines Pittsburgh and that has defined his own life. After seeing a striking picture online, Nick writes that “In a moment the landscape and architecture depicted in the picture brought back a flood of memories…I understood at once how important the physical attributes of the region are in determining my identity as an individual and how I as an individual truly know the region.”


Founded in 1964, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is a non-profit membership organization working to: identify and save historically-significant places; revitalize historic neighborhoods, towns, and urban areas; preserve historic farms and historic-designed landscapes; and educate people about the Pittsburgh region’s rich architectural heritage.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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