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Legacy Scholarship Keeps a Memory Alive

Scott Allen Meyer was a good friend to many people. And he was good at many things. He loved to fly fish, hike and snowboard. Most of all, he loved to learn, reading book after book, developing a deep and passionate knowledge of history.

This passion is why, when this vibrant young man’s life was cut short in 2011, his parents decided to establish the Scott A. Meyer Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in American History.

For Scott’s parents, Mike Meyer of Palm Desert, Calif., and Valerie Maginnis of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, the endowed scholarship has been part of learning to live in the shadow of losing their only child.

“When your child dies, it is a process,” says Meyer. “Scott had so much potential to do so much more. We always come back to the fact that he loved history, he loved to learn, and he had fallen in love with Montana and his time at UM. This scholarship is a legacy to Scott and the person that he was.”

Drawn to Montana

After graduating from UM with a bachelor’s degree in history in 2003, Scott went back to California for a time. While there, he always felt the tug of Montana. He was working as a probation officer in Kalispell at the time of his death.

On January 8, 2011, Scott was snowboarding at Whitefish Mountain Resort. After two great days on the mountain with his friends, Scott decided to take a last run, by himself, down one of his favorite slopes. It is believed that Scott hit a small tree tip in the snow and fell into a tree well. He was just 29 years old.

David Dowell, who worked with Scott in Kalispell, remembers him with admiration.

“Scott was genuinely smart, gregarious, a good writer, a hard worker, a great friend, and always working to better himself,” he says. “He helped me find a renewed sense of work and obligation. He made it enjoyable, and he demonstrated how much in life there was to learn, no matter the situation.”

On October 12, 2012, the day Scott would have turned 31, his parents signed the paperwork to officially set up the scholarship in Scott’s name.

A student with similar interests

A year later, Hilary Grabowska is the first recipient, and Scott’s parents feel that she fits the bill perfectly.

Hilary and Michael

Grabowska is a history major from Shepherdstown, W. Va. She says that history was always her favorite subject in grade school and high school, and like Scott, she fell in love with Montana.

“Our family vacations were always camping trips to the wide open spaces of the American West,” says Grabowska. “One summer I spent a lot of time in Yellowstone and while there I came on a college visit to the University of Montana. Now as a senior in American history, with a minor in African American studies, my whole experience at UM tells me that I made the right decision.”

In addition to her studies, Grabowska works as a resident assistant in Duniway Hall and as a UM Advocate, giving tours of campus and participating in community service projects.

Over the summer, she returns home to work as a Park Ranger leading history tours at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, a job she hopes to expand and continue upon graduation.

“When they say ‘Big Sky,’ it is true,” she says. “UM has been a great experience. I am grateful for the support I have received, especially the scholarship in Scott’s name.”

Pictured above: Hilary Grabowska and Mike Meyer met in person for the first time last fall.

Still giving back

Friends say a scholarship in Scott’s memory is a perfect way to remember him.

“He was the only guy I knew who could hit on girls using history quotes,” best friend Jared Hafer says with a laugh. “He loved to share, give back to his community, his friends. There is no better way to honor him than a scholarship that encourages another student’s pursuit of knowledge.”

With the Scott A. Meyer Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in American History, he will continue to influence others long into the future.

“He was a natural teacher,” says friend Kai Groenke. “It gave Scott great pleasure to inspire passion in others by encouraging them to keep learning, to keep growing.”

And with time, the scholarship might help those who miss Scott the most.

“Scott was my best friend. I miss him every day,” says Hafer. “I hope that this scholarship helps bring comfort to his parents, knowing that in his own way, Scott is still giving back.”