In October 2007, Sam Wasson and a group of Loyola Marymount University theater arts majors traveled to Laramie, Wyoming, to prepare for a production of “The Laramie Project.” Tragically, the students were involved in a major car accident on the way home and Wasson was killed. To commemorate his life, the Department of Theatre Arts created the Sam Wasson Scholarship.
“Wasson made an impact on the lives that he touched. He made a difference in everybody’s life. He was a hard worker and a joy to be around,” said Jason Sheppard, theater arts faculty member and Wasson’s former work-study supervisor.
The scholarship will go to a student who excels in both the performance and the technical sides of theater because Wasson was active in both areas. Devin Kasper, a junior theater arts major, was the first recipient and received the $2,000 award at a ceremony on the Foley Patio in May. Kasper remembers Wasson fondly.
“Sam was extremely outgoing and went out of his way to make people feel at home. He was the first person to open up to me at LMU,” Kasper said. “I can only hope that people will see me as someone who is as hardworking as Sam was, and that I can brighten their day and make them smile the way he did.”
A letter from Wasson’s mother that was read at the ceremony said: “The reason we remember Sam with this scholarship is not only for his talent but his love for the craft and love for those for whom he worked. … Know that whenever the lights go up, the brightest light shining to spotlight your talent is the light that Sam left behind. He is saying to you, 'Break-a-leg dude. You're the best!’ ”
Faculty members and students raised money for the scholarship through fundraisers and by asking for contributions after LMU productions. This will be the second scholarship that the theater department will offer; the Virginia Barnelle Scholarship goes to a senior who has demonstrated superior academic achievement, outstanding service to the program and the university, and in recognition of excellence in theater arts.
Sheppard hopes that the Wasson award will become an endowed scholarship.
“The scholarship developed out of an idea to commemorate Sam’s life. He would have wanted everyone to come together and celebrate his life through something he liked, instead of mourning,” Sheppard said.
To make a contribution to the Sam Wasson Scholarship, please click here.