By Bárbara Gutiérrez
Steven Joel Sotloff was a devoted journalist, whose passion for his craft took him to faraway places to cover important stories and dangerous conflicts. In September of 2014, he lost his life at the hands of ISIS militants after being kidnapped.
“He took it as his responsibility to bring these stories to life,” said his father Arthur Sotloff. “He went to the Middle East and saw all of the injustices that affected the people, and his writing was all about the people and the human factor. He gave his life for this.”
Sotloff said that his son was the kind of journalist who went beyond the daily work to delve into the intricacies of a story. Steven spoke perfect Arabic, and wrote for several publications including Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post and L.A. Times, among others. After the 2012 attack on the Benghazi compound by Islamic militants that killed a U.S. Ambassador and several U.S. citizens, Steven stayed behind to track down the guards who were stationed in the compound on that day.
Now his legacy will thrive at the University of Miami School of Communication (SoC). His parents, Shirley and Arthur Sotloff, through the 2LIVES: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation, have pledged $125,000 to establish the Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund to support a deserving student of journalism.
The gift will allow a yearly scholarship to be granted to a talented student from Florida who demonstrates both academic success and financial need.
“We are honored and proud to be associated with the Sotloff family and the memory of Steven. This scholarship throws good against evil, making a gift from tragedy,” said SoC Dean Gregory Shepherd. “Steven practiced journalism so he could tell the stories of everyday people suffering through the cruel conflicts of the Middle East. He practiced heroic journalism. I have strong faith that the students benefitting from this award will carry that heroism forward.”
The grandson of Holocaust survivors, Steven often had to hide his identity as he travelled to the Middle East in search of stories for his freelance assignments.
Associate professor Sam Terilli, who heads the SoC Journalism and Media Management Department, believes that Steven’s life will be an inspiration to many students. “This generous gift represents a wonderful opportunity for our journalism students, many of whom have a strong interest in international issues and the Middle East in particular,” he said.
Although Steven did not attend UM, Sotloff’s parents thought it was important to give the scholarship to the University because it is part of the community where the family lives and where Steven was born and raised. Steven was also an avid sports fan who loved the Miami Hurricanes, the Miami Heat, and the Miami Dolphins.
Arthur Sotloff wants people to remember his son for the hero he was. “He knew what he was getting into. My hat goes off to him,” he said.
For more information on the Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, please contact Brian Weinblatt, senior director of development in the UM School of Communication, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.284.9780.