Daughter's love of travel inspires honors award in her memory

In 2010, Lisa Lotito spent the holidays a half a world away from her home outside of Philadelphia. As much as she missed being surrounded by family, she said her trip to Qatar was the gift of a lifetime.

Which is exactly what it was. Lisa, who at the time was in the midst of her junior year at Penn State as a member of the Schreyer Honors College, was the 2010-11 recipient of the Carey Lynne DeMoss, Esq. Memorial Award. The scholarship, awarded annually since 2007, honors the passion for travel and adventure of the 2003 Penn State honors graduate for which it is named.

It is a fitting legacy, say her parents, Lynne and Ron DeMoss. The DeMosses have recently committed an additional $25,000 toward the award’s endowment with the hope that even more Schreyer Scholars will benefit from the travel grants. Since being established through memorial contributions from DeMoss' family, friends and colleagues, the fund has awarded travel grants ranging from $500 to more than $1,600 annually, and some years as many as two students have received awards.

"Carey was just so vivacious and so full of life,” said Lynne DeMoss. "She loved to travel. Rather than spend her money on clothes or a nice place to live, she loved to go places and meet new people and experience seeing new things.”

"I have to give my wife full credit," says Ron DeMoss. "It was her idea to create this scholarship in Carey’s memory because traveling was what Carey loved. Even from a young age, she learned to love to travel because of the vacations we took as a family. Like most students, she wanted to study abroad, which she did when she went to France while at Penn State. When she was in law school, she spent a semester studying in Leiden in The Netherlands. Those experiences were so important to her that I think offering these opportunities to other students would be something she would very much appreciate being a part of."

Carey came to Penn State even though she hadn’t been accepted into the Schreyer Honors College for her freshman year.

"When Carey was looking at colleges, she looked at Ohio State and the University of Michigan but when it came down to it, it was hands down ‘I'm going to Penn State,'" Ron DeMoss said. "When she didn’t get accepted in to the Honors College right away, I told her that I’d spend the next year convincing them that they’d made a big mistake – and so she did. Her adviser told her when she was admitted that when you do your résumé no one will ever know that you weren’t admitted from the beginning, that it’s of no consequence. I think the greater consequence is that she persevered. That showed Carey’s initiative and ambition, as well."

While a Schreyer Scholar, DeMoss applied for and received a travel grant to support her study abroad in France. According to DeMoss' mother, that experience "changed her life." "The Honors College saw the potential in her and gave her something to help achieve it," Lynne DeMoss said. "Seeing the potential in a person and making it be the tipping point that they’re able to do something they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to do makes all the difference. Studying abroad totally changed Carey’s life. She studied. She spent the weekends traveling around Europe. She backpacked with friends. Getting the scholarship made her feel that someone recognized all this work she had done – and it made her work a little harder so that she wouldn’t disappoint people."

The DeMosses point to Carey’s success at Penn State and beyond to show that investment in her studies paid off. Carey graduated with honors in finance from the Smeal College of Business. She attended law at Boston University, graduating cum laude in 2006. She died in a tragic accident while a passenger on her first motorcycle ride in June 2007, just four days after her 27th birthday. She had traveled that weekend from her home in New York City to San Antonio, Texas, to visit a friend. At the time of her death, she was an associate in the New York office of the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.

With their new pledge of support, the DeMosses hope that even more Schreyer Scholars will find traveling abroad for study or research to be within reach. "I think Carey would say 'Don’t pass up chances. Make it happen,’" Ron DeMoss said. "That was her philosophy. It’s absolutely terrific to be able to create this in her memory."

The Demosses’ gift will help the Schreyer Honors College to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, a University-wide effort directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

For information about the Schreyer Honors College and the Carey Lynne DeMoss, Esq. Memorial Award for Excellence in Building a Global Perspective, contact the Schreyer Honors College development office at 814-865-4258.

 

Last Updated January 10, 2014