By Karina Valdes
In September of 2014, Steven Joel Sotloff, a journalist from South Florida, lost his life at the hands of Islamic State group militants. On Sunday, his parents Arthur and Shirley Sotloff, stood on the field of Sun Life Stadium minutes before their son’s beloved Dolphins took the field, and fearlessly showed the world that Steven’s legacy lives on.
UM sophomore Carlen Dickerson, the first recipient of the Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, was presented with a $2,500 scholarship before the start of the Dolphins versus Ravens game.
“Carlen is a model student intently focused on a career in journalism. Her passion and curiosity reflect Steven’s. Thanks to the generous contributions to 2LIVES, we’re able to help young and future journalists like Carlen as they seek their dreams. This is something Steve would have wanted,” his parents said in a statement.
Earlier this year, the Sotloffs established through 2LIVES: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation, the Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund at University of Miami School of Communication. The scholarship provides a student who demonstrates the dedication Sotloff had for journalism the financial support to pursue their education.
Dickerson, who is majoring in Broadcast Journalism and minoring in International Studies, followed the coverage on Sotloff and felt a connection. Like her, he is a journalist from Florida.
"I think I was in class, and I was reading more into ISIS and all of the things going on and I remember seeing his name and reading he's from Miami. So when I read about the award, I knew exactly who he was,” said Dickerson.
In order to be chosen for this scholarship, the student had to be a Florida resident studying Journalism and be in good academic standing. Luis Herrera, assistant dean at the School of Communication, noted, “Dickerson is a stellar representation of the school” and demonstrates the passion for journalism that is at the core of this scholarship.
Dickerson says receiving this scholarship is an “overwhelming honor” and it’s given her a reason to not give up on her dreams.
“Waking up every day going into this industry, I mean… it can be scary, you know? There is a lot of uncertainty, like who knows if I'll even make it as a journalist. Getting this scholarship just gives me one more reason to keep going and keep working as hard as I can to get to where I want to be," says Dickerson.
She adds, "It feels heavy because he lost his life and now I'm getting this scholarship in his name. When I met his dad, Art, we talked and I just wanted to say how thankful I was and how excited I am, but at the same time just how horribly sorry I am that this scholarship even has to exist,” said Dickerson.
Sotloff was raised in Miami and reported from Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Libya, and Bahrain for various media organizations including ABC News, Time, The Christian Science Monitor, The Media Line, and Foreign Policy. On August 4, 2013, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey, Steven was kidnapped by the Islamic State group. His brutal murder was reported on September 2, 2014. After his death, Felice Friedson, Sotloff’s editor at The Media Line, called him “one of the most courageous, talented and insightful journalists that I have met.”
"I’m really thankful for this opportunity and I think it's an amazing legacy that they've started," said Dickerson.
To learn more about 2Lives Foundation, please visit www.2LIVESfoundation.org.