New scholarship has magical, mysterious name

Category:  News
Thursday, September 10th, 2015 at 1:09 PM
New scholarship has magical, mysterious name by Tracy Geibel
From left to right, Alica Twilla, Jeri Chaitlin, Michelle Callahan, Wade Callahan, Izzy Laythe, Joseph Laythe, Chris Laythe, Susan Keyes, Mike Callahan, Sandy Callahan, President Julie Wollman and Mariyn Goellner, posed for a picture at the scholarship signing. | Contributed Photo

Perhaps when students receive emails about scholarships, they take a glance at the scholarship’s name and the requirements for it. If they don’t qualify, the email is likely moved to the trash bin and easily forgotten, but if students were to receive an email about the Dr. Joseph Laythe Magical Mystery Scholarship of the Tartan Femur, they would likely stop to read more of the email, even if they didn’t meet the requirements.

That may happen in the near future, as over the summer Edinboro University was able to add another scholarship to the already over 375 privately funded academic and athletic scholarships and permanent endowments available to students.

Forty-nine-year-old Edinboro University history professor, Dr. Joseph Laythe, has taught at this university since his graduation from the University of Oregon nearly 20 years ago. In March 2013, he noticed a bump on his leg, a bump that turned out to be cancer. He had his femur removed. Then, part of both of his lungs. The cancer has returned though, once again in his lungs.

Micheal Callahan, faculty member at the University of Michigan at Dearborn and relative of Laythe, wanted to create this scholarship in honor of this professor. Callahan approached Laythe with questions about the specifications and the name of the scholarship. After some thought, the scholarship’s name was decided to be the Dr. Joseph Laythe Magical Mystery Scholarship of the Tartan Femur.

“The thought of a Dr. Joseph Laythe Memorial Scholarship, who wants that? …There’s nothing fun about it,” Laythe said. “If I’m going to have this named after me while I’m still alive, I want to have fun with it, rather than just have it boring.”

Marilyn Goellner, Edinboro University’s major and planned gifts officer, works to manage the university’s privately funded scholarships. Yet, during her time at Edinboro, she has never heard such a long, creative scholarship name.

“Every time I look at it, it makes me smile,” Goellner said.

Laythe explained how the scholarship got its name. “So, obviously, my name. The magical, mystery part because that’s just magical and mysterious, and then, we thought, well they took my femur as part of this cancer, so why not give it back, so we added the femur in. Then, because we are Scottish here at Edinboro, I had to throw in the Tartan. So, it’s the Dr. Joseph Laythe Magical, Mystery Scholarship of the Tartan Femur.”

The scholarship will be given annually with first preference to single parent students who meet the academic standards. Candidates must also submit an application and a less-than- two-page essay about goals that the student wants to achieve with an education, the reason that education is important to that student, or what it is like to attend college and be a single parent.

“I had and still do have a number of students in my classes that are single mothers and I am constantly amazed. School work is hard enough, transitioning to college is hard enough, being a parent is hard enough, but throwing all three of those together at a young age, that’s overwhelming; that’s powerful,” Laythe said.

“So, I wanted to make sure we could ease the burdens of those students and make sure that they come out successful and teach their kids the power of going to college and getting your education.” Within six weeks of collecting donations, the scholarship had been funded.

“We are going to give back, and hopefully, my sense of humor, my playfulness and the things that I do here on campus will go well beyond my time on this planet.”

The Dr. Joseph Laythe Magical, Mystery Scholarship of the Tartan Femur may be given out for the Fall 2015 semester. If given out for this semester, the award will be for $500, but in the future, it will be for $1000. Those interested in applying should watch for emails in their student accounts.

For a complete list of scholarships, students can search “scholarships” on the university’s website. If students are eligible, they are automatically considered for most scholarships. The awards that require applications, essays, or other additional information are emailed to those who qualify or might qualify.

Tracy Geibel is the campus life editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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