Alumnus unveils new scholarship, donated $25,000

In addition to presenting his documentary “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium” on the Mercyhurst College campus Tuesday, April 3, Brent Scarpo surprised the college community by unveiling a new Mercyhurst scholarship that is dedicated to the memories of slain University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard and Scarpo’s mother Betty, who died from cancer four years ago.

Scarpo screened his documentary at Mercyhurst for the first time on Tuesday, bringing with him Judy Shepard, whose son Matthew was brutally beaten to death in 1998, and songwriter Randi Driscoll, who performed a song for the film.

“I knew from the time I was in college here at Mercyhurst that I wanted to give something back someday, and this was the time and the place to do that,” said Scarpo, who announced his surprise donation at the close of the program in the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center. “You have me, a son who lost his mother, and you have Judy, a mother who lost her son, and now we have met each other and work together, so this seemed like the way to make my contribution to Mercyhurst.”

Scarpo, an independent film producer and Warren, Pa., native, donated $25,000 to endow the scholarship at Mercyhurst College, his alma mater.

The Scarpo/Shepard Scholarship fund will provide financial support for students faced with an emergency family situation. The scholarship must be awarded to a currently enrolled Mercyhurst student, enrolled full-time in a degree seeking program, who is not a current recipient of athletic funding but has demonstrated an ability to make a difference in his/her community and has maximized all other loan and grant opportunities. The circumstances around the emergency family situation must put the student at risk for missing or losing their place at Mercyhurst. All awards shall be determined by application to the college’s financial aid office.

Scarpo, a 1984 graduate of the college, has worked as a producer, writer, director and casting director on such films as "The Shawshank Redemption," "That Thing You Do" and "Air Force One."

The film, “Journey to a Hate Free Millennium,” was a production of New Light Media, the nonprofit production company that combines Scarpo’s interest in education, public speaking and entertainment into a single entity with the mission of stimulating and educating the world through multimedia works that celebrate and honor the human spirit.

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