GLASSBORO There's a photo that Ray Medeiros said comes to mind when he thinks of his wife's time as a student at Rowan University: She is seated in the front row of a classroom with an exuberant smile on her face. He said it perfectly encapsulates Myra Schiffmann Medeiros' experience there.
"She loved school, most of her professors, and she loved her fellow students," Medeiros said. "She called them her kids."
The 61-year-old Franklinville resident was two months away from graduating with a master's degree in writing arts when she died of lung cancer last March 11. Before her death, Schiffmann Medeiros expressed her desire to start a scholarship for her "kids," who had brought her so much joy.
Medeiros said he wanted to fulfill his wife's wish, so with his sister-in-law, Athene Goldstein, he established the Myra Schiffmann-Bunya Sandler Memorial Fund, also named for Schiffmann Medeiros' aunt who died in the Holocaust.
The fund is to benefit writers at Rowan who seek to attend conferences and will also help cover submission fees for publications.
After spending her professional career as an advertising writer, Schiffmann Medeiros wanted to spend her retirement doing what she called "legitimate writing" as opposed to copy writing, so she enrolled in Rowan's writing arts program, Medeiros said.
He said the goal is to raise $25,000 for the scholarship. The bulk of the money has come from the amount he had planned to put toward his wife's last semester at Rowan. Friends, family, and proceeds from a collection of Schiffmann Medeiros' writing, available on Amazon.com, are also contributing to the growing fund.
Christina Schillaci, a senior in Rowan's writing arts program and the first scholarship recipient, said she met Schiffmann Medeiros when a group of Rowan students traveled to the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference.
"She was so full of life, and she was a talented writer," Schillaci said. "I'm happy I had the chance to meet her."
With the scholarship funds, Schillaci attended the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club in Galloway Township. She said the event was especially fitting because she could envision Schiffmann Medeiros loving her networking with fellow writers. - Kelly Flynn