SUNY Oswego freshman Samia Montgomery has shown an ability to overcome much -- the death of her father, an illness for her mother, homelessness and hunger -- while continuing to excel, which made her one of five statewide recipients of the Carey Gabay Scholarship Program.

When she was 10, Montgomery and her family had to spend several months in a homeless shelter. The family then made a home in Troy but when she was 16, her father passed away after a battle with multiple sclerosis. The same year, her mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

Despite all the obstacles, Montgomery excelled as a student, placing second in her class and graduating Lansingburgh High School with a 95 average. She excelled outside the classroom, tutoring other students, earning induction into the National Honor Society and joining the school trivia team.

“A lot of it came from wanting to do well for my dad. And I wanted to do well for my mom,” who has remained encouraging even while continuing her battle with cancer, Montgomery said. “I’ve also always liked school and wanted to keep going." 

The scholarship will cover all costs of attendance, including tuition, room and board, college fees, books and supplies, and transportation and personal expenses.

Montgomery, who enrolled as a political science major, is interested in attending law school. “I feel like I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” Montogomery said. “I want to learn more about the different kinds of lawyers.” One potential goal is to fight for justice, especially for those wrongfully accused who have nobody else to defend them.

Named for the late attorney and public servant Carey Gabay, the award recognizes a track record of overcoming obstacles in succeeding academically, service to others and a dedication to social justice.

"The recipients of this year's scholarships will carry out Carey Gabay's long-lasting and remarkable legacy through their commitment to their communities, desire to pursue a higher education, and passion to make our state and the world a better place,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson.