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Memorial scholarship created in remembrance of Loyola graduate

Loyola press release - August 28, 2007

(New Orleans)— Friends and family of Nia Robertson are honoring her memory through the creation of a memorial scholarship at Loyola University New Orleans. Named the Nia Robertson Memorial Scholarship, friends and family are aiming to design an endowed scholarship to be provided for a person from New Orleans, attending the School of Mass Communication at Loyola, and interested in social causes, who needs financial help to further his or her education.

Kristi Ayres, Robertson’s friend who is spearheading the scholarship creation, said, “[Nia’s] passion for education was second to none. I know she is smiling knowing someone will be able to further their education in her name.”

Robertson, 28, died on August 15 as the result of a random attack by a man who did not know her, at Pal’s Lounge, a neighborhood bar in Bayou St. John.

Robertson, a New Orleans native, graduated in 2004 from Loyola with a master’s degree in mass communication. People who were close to Robertson say that she was an intelligent, compassionate woman who looked out for other people, highly praised as a good student by her teachers throughout her education, and a fondly remembered graduate student of Loyola.

Ayres said that they selected Loyola for Robertson’s memorial scholarship because Robertson loved New Orleans and would have wanted the scholarship to be here. “She was New Orleans,” said Ayres. “She was everything that New Orleans should stand for.”

Larry Lorenz, interim dean of the College of Social Sciences and A. Louis Read Distinguished Professor in Mass Communication, who was Robertson’s ethics professor, said, “She was a lovely person, and as a student she was thoughtful and well-spoken. The scholarship in her memory is a wonderful and appropriate tribute to her.”

Sherry L. Alexander, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Mass Communication, who directed Robertson’s thesis, offers condolences to her family and friends, and hopes the scholarship will help honor the memory of an outstanding student. “Nia was a wonderful person, bright, witty, and classy. It was a pleasure to work with her on her M.A. Her thesis research on access to school board records was requested by subsequent researchers, which is quite unusual for student work in our field.”

Robert A. Thomas, Ph.D., professor and interim director of the School of Mass Communication and Loyola Chair in Environmental Communications, remembers Robertson as an exceptional graduate student who loved Loyola. “She was held in high esteem by her peers and the School of Mass Communication faculty,” he said.

David Myers, Ph.D., Rev. Aloysius B. Goodspeed Distinguished Professor in Mass Communication, said that Robertson’s death was a great shock to all at Loyola. Myers said, “While in our M.A. degree program in mass communication, Nia was an excellent student with a sincere appreciation for graduate studies and higher education. I believe she would have approved of and been pleased with establishing a scholarship in her name.”

Krista Whittington, fellow mass communication grad student, said, “I think it will definitely help in [her parents’] healing process to know that their daughter made an incredible difference during her short time on this earth and is still able to make a difference by helping make this world a better place.”

“As the parents of Nia Renee’ Robertson, we are honored and thankful that Loyola University has decided to honor Nia’s memory by establishing a scholarship in her name,” said Nia’s parents, Emile and Marvel Robertson. “It is our hope that the persons awarded this scholarship over the years will be someone who exhibits a sprit of kindness, intelligence, and a commitment to furthering the dialogue of open communication between all people.”

Ayres said they need to collect $25,000 to create an annual endowed scholarship. Donations to the Nia Robertson Memorial Scholarship should be mailed to Loyola University New Orleans, 7214 St. Charles Ave., Campus Box 909, New Orleans, LA, 70118. Checks can be made payable to the scholarship or simply to Loyola University New Orleans. Gifts can also be made online by visiting www.loyno.edu and clicking on “Giving to Loyola” and then, “Give Now.” On the form, please check “Other” and indicate in the text box that the donation is for this scholarship. All donations will be acknowledged, and the parents will be notified of gifts made in Robertson’s memory.