Marilyn Burkell Roth ’63 nearly dropped out of college following the unexpected death of her father during her freshman year at SUNY Oswego.
“She was very academically inclined,” said her husband of 50 years, John Robert “Bob” Roth ’64. “But her father died suddenly, her grades suffered and she went from an outstanding scholar to considering leaving school.”
Decades later, Marilyn would be a driving force in helping high school girls stay in school long enough to graduate as a founding member of the International Trade Education Programs (ITEP), a California-based non-profit organization formed in the 1990s. ITEP brings together private industry and public education to provide opportunities for high school students at risk, serving students from seven public high schools in low-income communities.
“She became a mentor for high school girls, guiding them to earn what was often the first high school diploma in their families,” Bob said. “She was instrumental in their success.”
Marilyn earned the prestigious Bill Stein Memorial Leadership Award in March 2014 for her efforts to facilitate students on the path of achievement through education. She received a Congressional Commendation from the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as letters of commendation from the California legislature, several California senators, the Los Angeles Unified School District board of education, and the city and county of Los Angeles.
Marilyn died in August 2014. In honor of her life—and the life they navigated together since they met at SUNY Oswego—Bob has dedicated the Marilyn Burkell Roth ’63 and John Robert Roth ’64 Second Chance Scholarship in her memory. The scholarship is for students who need support to make a major change in their lives after an unfortunate setback. The Second Chance Scholarship is one of five new endowed scholarships created by Bob to support students at SUNY Oswego.
“When she put her mind to something, she really ran with it,” Bob said of Marilyn’s dedication to all of her pursuits. “We’ve had such a variety of life experiences, and it’s easy to see how a 360-turnaround in someone’s life can make a difference.”
In addition to the Second Chance Scholarship, Bob has established two scholarships for students in the School of Education, one scholarship for a non-traditional student and one scholarship for a student majoring in technology. Each annual award is $1,500 and is renewable for up to five years.