Stories

Philanthropy

A man who left a legacy

In 2007, Don Rothman and his wife, Diana, marked his retirement by establishing the Don Rothman Award in First-Year Writing to celebrate exceptional student writers and their writing professors.

Rothman, who died in November after teaching writing at UCSC for four decades, knew that young writers began their academic careers the moment they set foot in their first college classroom.

One recent winner of the award, Sarah Edelstein, said she gained tremendous confidence from receiving the honor. "It was for the first paper I ever wrote at UCSC," she said. "To get that immediate validation was unbelievable for me."

Her parents, Bertram Edelstein and Karen Helrich, donated toward the endowment so other students and their parents could experience that same sense of well-earned pride. "When we found out the award was not fully funded, we wanted to do something to make sure other people benefited in the same way," Bertram Edelstein said.

Helrich was so thrilled about her daughter's award that she and her husband flew from San Diego to the ceremony and back again in the same day. "It was so worth it!" Helrich said. "My husband and I were holding hands, and tears were running down our cheeks. It was so beautiful to watch."

Now, supporters are close to reaching their initial goal of $25,000 to endow the fund, and hope to raise an additional $25,000, allowing them to increase the number of prizes and the amount of cash awards.

The growing endowment honors Rothman's memory in an impactful way, UCSC Writing Program chair James Wilson said.

"Don was really instrumental in making sure faculty and administrators understood that all students, from the time they enter the university, are part of the intellectual mission of the campus," Wilson said. "What better way to enact that belief than to set up an award like this?"

Since 2007 roughly 20 students have won prizes of up to $300.