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Thomas Jefferson senior surprised with full scholarship

Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Seton Hill University admissions counselor John Gibson (right) surprised Thomas Jefferson High School senior Samantha Robbins (with her mother Judi and father Scott) on Thursday with a full scholarship to the Greensburg college.  
Friday, March 14, 2014, 2:06 a.m.

When Thomas Jefferson High School senior Samantha Robbins was unexpectedly called to the office on Thursday morning, it crossed her mind that she might be in trouble. But the moment the 18-year-old stepped into the Jefferson Room to see her parents, principal and teachers beaming with pride alongside representatives of Seton Hill University, Robbins knew exactly why she had been summoned.

Robbins, daughter of Scott and Judi Robbins of Jefferson Hills, was surprised to receive one of 12 full-tuition scholarships from the school as part of the Seton Scholars Program. She'll receive free tuition for four years, valued at more than $120,000, through the university's Division of Humanities.

“I feel shaky, awesome, surprised, wonderful, gracious and just seriously shocked,” said Robbins. “I was just on the Seton Hill Instagram last night and saw that two girls from Plum won. This morning, I told my mom, ‘I don't know if I'm gonna get in.'”

Her parents learned of the honor about two weeks ago.

“It was really hard to keep it secret,” her mother said. “I wasn't sure we could do it.”

To be eligible for the scholarship, Robbins needed to have a GPA of 3.7 or higher, a 1,350 or higher combined SAT score, a demonstration of leadership or community service, and a written essay among other requirements.

An honor student and drama club member who plays “Mrs. Smith” in the school production of “Meet Me in St. Louis” this weekend, Robbins plans to major in Spanish and submitted two essays to Seton Hill for consideration — one in both languages.

“I think my love of theater heavily correlates with my love of Spanish because I just love to connect with people,” she said. “I think I'd like to get into translating for the government or a corporate business. I want to become one of those people who's on a plane more than they're on the ground because they travel so much.”

Principal Timothy Haselhoff said the scholarship couldn't go to a more deserving student.

“She's got a great work ethic and she's always happy,” he said. “Everything she does, she enjoys. She has a way of turning anything — even if it's difficult — into something positive that she can learn from.”

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1970, or



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