Some fans that make their way out to St. John Fisher for training camp don't pay too much attention to the other Bills fans around them. However on August 1 there was a special guest present at training camp.
East Amherst native and 2006 recipient of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Jefferson scholarship, Samantha Berger, was in attendance for the afternoon practice. Berger, a rising sophomore at the University of Virginia, received the scholarship as one of 30 Jefferson scholars in 2006.
After being nominated by her school for the scholarship, Berger went through a rigorous regional selection process and emerged as one of two students selected to travel to Charlottesville, Virginia for five days where the 30 recipients are chosen out of the 90 finalists that were selected from their regional interviews.
Aside from being one of the 30 students chosen to receive a Jefferson scholarship, Berger's trip to Charlottesville also helped her choose which school she wanted to attend.
"I wasn't planning on going as far away from home originally, but after meeting all the people from Virginia and seeing the school it definitely was the right choice," said Berger.
As an alumnus of Virginia, Wilson gave Berger many words of wisdom, including support from the Bills, before she departed for school and the two stay in regular correspondence via e-mail.
"He said he was very happy being there and it was a great experience for him and he wanted someone else to share the same happiness that he had there," said Berger.
Receiving her scholarship from Mr. Wilson was extra special for Berger because she noted that some Jefferson scholars do not know the person giving them their scholarship.
"A lot of the other Jefferson Scholars don't know the person who gave them their scholarship," said Berger. "But I have met Mr. Wilson and talked to him and it is special knowing it came from Buffalo where I'm from so it means a lot more."
Berger is more than deserving of the scholarship. She plans to double major in economics and business and she is currently carrying a 3.94 grade point average. In addition, Berger is involved in numerous on and off campus volunteer groups.
The only hurdle Berger has had to overcome is finding time for all of her activities.
"I have found that I have much better time management skills. Since learning that I have been able to coordinate my schedule much better," said Berger.
Berger is not the only student who is lucky enough to benefit from Mr. Wilson's generosity. Wilson's name appears at many Western New York colleges due to his involvement in the education of Western New York students.
Among the other scholarships bearing Mr. Wilson's name is the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. scholarship; given to one full time sports studies major and/or student athlete at St. John Fisher college. Also, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Sports scholarship is awarded to four students, one from each class, at Canisius College each year. Most recently St. John Fisher College dedicated their newest academic facility to Mr. Wilson. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. School of Education building was opened in 2004.