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Fall 2009

Trinity Reporter Fall 2009
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Roberta (Bobbi) Scherr '83Since she was 12 years old, Roberta (Bobbi) Scherr ’83 knew she wanted to be a doctor. “I thought I would win the Nobel Prize for biomedical research.” A shy child, Scherr says she came into her own at Trinity. “I developed self-possession, and I realized that I enjoyed working with people.” That realization led her not to biomedical research but to family practice.

She attributes her growth at Trinity to her immersion in the inaugural Guided Studies Program, which examines the evolution of Western civilization from a variety of disciplines. “This provided me with a social group and common experiences with 25 other freshmen,” she says. Though she didn’t complete the program due to the heavy demands of her premedical curriculum, the 300-level courses in philosophy, religion, and literature and colloquium sessions with faculty members opened her eyes, she says.

Scherr received her M.D. from Hahnemann Medical University (now Drexel Medical School) in Philadelphia and completed her residency at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, New Jersey. She is a faculty physician at the Good Samaritan Hospital at Pennsylvania State University, where she teaches residents in family medicine.
In her fourth year of medical school, Scherr met Barry Abramson. The two were married in 1988. Several years later, Abramson became ill, and finally, in 2002, he was diagnosed with polyateritis nodosa, a rare disease that causes inflammation of the blood vessels. Scherr devoted much of her time to facilitating her husband’s treatment until his death in August of 2008.

Scherr believes that we are presented with life’s challenges for a reason, and she was glad to be able to assist in her husband’s care. “Even though he was ill, even though we went through bad times, he retained his capacity to love life, to love me, and to love our son,” she says.

In 2005, Scherr and Abramson adopted a son, Robbie, who had spent all five years of his life in foster care. “We both immediately fell in love with him,” she says. Robbie suffered abuse in the foster care system, and initially his introduction into the family was difficult. But with love and patience, Robbie is making great strides, and Scherr is confident he will be a fully functioning adult. “He has an open heart,” she says.

Despite her losses and challenges, Scherr remains optimistic about the future for herself and her son. “Most days, one of us will say to the other, ‘I miss Daddy.’ But I try to see things in a positive light. I have a lot of sustaining friendships, and I still have my father,” she says. Scherr’s father often stays with Robbie when she does her weekend rounds.

As Robbie, now 11, becomes more independent, Scherr hopes to have more time for research and writing. “I’m interested in finding ways to help educate mothers on how to bond better with their infants. Improved mother-infant bonding will lessen abuse. I want to find ways to help empower mothers to better advocate for themselves and their children.”

“I’m just trying to lead a sane life,” says Carolyn Voelkening Wallach ’90. Assistant managing editor at the Record-Journal in Meriden, Connecticut, Wallach oversees the daily newspaper’s online presence and five weekly publications with a staff of 20. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, David, a financial adviser with TD Bank, and the two share their home with Carolyn’s mother, three boys—Wolfgang, 14; Gunther, 11; and Otto, 9—and two dogs.

Wallach loves being a working mom. “I’m not stressed out by guilt, by thinking I need to be home,” she says. On a recent evening over dinner (yes, Wallach manages a sit-down dinner with her family most evenings), Gunther commented on stories his parents were telling about their workday. “He said, ‘I can’t wait to go to work so I can meet all those smart people.’ My sons get to see parents who are personally fulfilled by doing something that’s important to them,” says the former Russian studies major. (She also holds an M.A. in American studies from Trinity.)


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