The Samsung American Legion Alumni Association was established in 2016 as an enhancement to the Samsung American Legion Scholarship. In addition to the financial benefit of receiving the scholarship, Samsung American Legion Scholars have access to a robust network of fellow recipients.
The alumni association is open to all recipients of the Samsung American Legion Scholarship at the state and national levels. By keeping alumni engaged with one another and involved with The American Legion and Samsung, we are working to become a premiere network of scholars and professionals with a vested interest in upholding the ideals of both Samsung and The American Legion.
Samsung American Legion Alumni Association Board Members
1999 National Winner
Newport News, VA- Southeast Region
- Boys State in Oregon
- Western Oregon University
- Coach for over a decade now at the collegiate level in the sports of track and field and cross country
- Conference and Regional Coach of the Year on about 10 occasions.
“I walked out of American Legion Boys State with some great leadership experience, and a tremendous opportunity having been chosen as one of the National Winners of the Samsung American Legion Scholarship. The opportunities it provided for me were "in the background" because the money went to pay for college. Effectively, it was just erasing bills that I never had to see. For that, I may not have recognized the immediate importance, but those waves rippled all the way through my life. It afforded me the opportunity to delve into the process of college education more fully, and that has led to the place I am now.”
1997 National Winner
Miamisburg, OH- Central Region
- Ohio University- BS in Mechanical Engineering
- University of Dayton- Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering
- Ohio Buckeye Boys State Volunteer
- 2017 American Legion National Oratorical Contest Judge
- Currently the Chief Flight Systems Engineer for the HC/MC-130J Program, Special Operations Forces & Personnel Recovery Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
“The Samsung American Legion Scholarship paid for almost half of my college education expenses which significantly reduced the amount of student loan debt I had to take on. Being a recipient of the scholarship allowed me to graduate with very little debt and provided me a financial head start to establishing myself and my career.”
2008 National Winner
Crosse, WI- Central Region
- University of Wisconsin – La Crosse - BS in Accounting and BS in Economics with a minor in Information Systems
- Attended Sustainability in Economics study abroad trip to New Zealand and Australia
- Employed at RSM US LLP, the 5th largest accounting firm in the United States
- Received 3 promotions in 5 years
- Completed the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination
“Being awarded the National Samsung American Legion Scholarship in 2008 was tremendously meaningful to me and also to my family due to my grandfather’s involvement as an Air Force Navigator in the Korean War. As a direct result of this generous scholarship I was able to attend the university of my dreams and have the college experience of a lifetime, and for that I am extremely grateful. Receiving the Samsung American Legion Scholarship presented me with the financial freedom to partake in a life changing study abroad trip to New Zealand and Australia during my collegiate career. This trip was primarily focused on sustainability in business, which is an area I am truly passionate about. Due to the generosity of the Samsung and American Legion organizations, I was also able to graduate from college debt free, which has catapulted me into my professional, adult life with a great financial advantage, a robust appreciation for service to our country and rewarding strong work ethic, and a comprehensive respect for philanthropic synergies amongst companies and organizations. Receiving this prestigious scholarship served to foster my confidence and enabled me in numerous ways to achieve the goals I set for myself both personally and professionally. From receiving this scholarship in high school, to obtaining a respectable job in a highly challenging and rewarding profession, it has been very fulfilling to know that hard work truly does pay off, and I am often humbled by how fortunate I have been over the last decade of my life. I am forever grateful for this scholarship and the ongoing positive effects I continue to experience as a direct result of receiving it. It is truly an honor to continue to be a part of the Samsung American Legion Alumni organization.”
2006 National Winner
Austin, TX- Southeast Region
- Casper College- associates in mass communications, political science, and agricultural business
- West Texas A&M University- B.A. in Mass Communications
- Events Coordinator for Hospice Austin
“The Samsung American Legion scholarship had a huge impact on my collegiate career and helped me have a college experience focused on my studies, rather than scrambling for student loans and other scholarships. This has translated to me being able to have a head start in my professional career and to not be bogged down by student loans. This is a wonderful program and opportunity for high school students.
The Samsung American Legion Scholarship has helped me and my family in ways that are difficult to even express. It has allowed me to pursue careers that fulfill me personally, rather than just searching for a high-paying job so I can pay off student loans. While the Samsung American Legion Scholarship definitely has an immediate benefit, I think its biggest impact is that it allows its recipients more freedom after leaving college.”
Courtney Lewis Matiaco
2011 State Finalist
Rexburg, ID- Southeast Region
- Brigham Young University- B.S. in Health Promotion
“Receiving the Samsung American Legion Scholarship was an incredible blessing. I knew that if I was going to go to college I would have to work very hard, because my parents had 7 other children they were taking care of and would not be able to help me financially. This scholarship was able to help me with that. I will graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree without any student debt. I have continued to work and volunteer, and the Samsung American Legion Scholarship helped me get to where I am today.”
2011 National Winner
Vancouver, WA- Western Region
- Lived in 14 places as an Army BRAT
- Awarded the American Legion School Award for being the male student who best exemplified courage, leadership, honor, service, scholarship, and patriotism
- Missouri Boys State
- University of Alabama- B.S. in Chemical Engineering
- Working for Goldman Sachs in the NYC area
“The scholarship helped me to graduate debt-free from college, and without it, I would not have been able to study renewable energy policy and technical development in Germany. I was able to focus more on my studies and involvement on campus because the scholarship alleviated the financial stress of college. With more freedom to pursue my interests, I was able to perform computational chemistry research, found a fraternity chapter on campus, run a grant program for the Student Government Association, develop a start-up, write a novella, and volunteer as a mentor for second graders at an underprivileged school.
I believe the scholarship had an equally large impact on my family as it did my education. My father has served in the Army for 30 years, and my grandfather served in the Korean War for 3 years. My grandfather left the war emotionally scarred and did not like to talk much about the things he saw, but when I told him I won the Samsung American Legion Scholarship in large part because of his service during the Korean War, he brightened up and said thoughtfully, "Something good came out of that experience after all." He never knew his service would be appreciated 60 years after. This scholarship brought a positive meaning to an old veteran's war experience. I know the power this scholarship can have on people's lives, both young and old.”
Dr. Zachary Tally, PT, DPT, CLT
2010 National Winner
Spartanburg, SC- Southeast Region
- Duke University - Doctor of Physical Therapy
- University of South Carolina- B.S in Exercise Science
- Currently, the first Oncologic Physical Therapy Resident at Duke University Hospital and Duke Cancer Center
“I firmly believe I would not be where I am today without the opportunity this scholarship offered. The Samsung American Legion Scholarship opened doors I did not believe could be opened. It propelled me through my preliminary educational endeavors and garnered hope and peace in the midst of far-reaching future decisions.
The Samsung American Legion Scholarship allowed me to graduate debt-free from an incredible undergraduate institution. It allowed me to personally honor and recognize the veterans within my home community and speak to the hope and experiences that their service extended to my life and that of my family. It allowed me to experience and discuss my grandfather’s experiences in the United States Navy in a whole new light. It cultivated in me a desire to edify the community around me, to serve those who have given so much to my future, and to pursue my future endeavors with focus and hope. The gift of this scholarship extended far beyond a monetary contribution to my education; it gifted pride, encouragement, and a broader appreciation for the sacrifices of the men and women I come in contact with daily.”
Dr. Krysta Webster Fink
1998 National Winner
Blacksburg, VA- Southeast Region
- Wofford College
- Western Carolina University master’s degree in clinical psychology
- Oklahoma State University Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology.
- Completed pre-doctoral internship at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and post-doctoral residency at James Madison University
- Licensed clinical psychologist in Virginia and South Carolina
- Working as a psychologist at Virginia Tech conducting individual and group therapy.
“I am certified as a psychologist trained to work with veterans, a certification inspired by the Samsung American Legion Scholarship and my grandfather’s military service. My fondest memory of my grandfather is the pride he had in learning that his service assisted me in obtaining an opportunity to leave the small, rural town I grew up in and to pursue not only educational but also cultural opportunities.
My family and I are so proud of this scholarship that we frequently donate time and money to the local American Legion in my hometown in South Carolina. If it were not for this scholarship, I would not have been able to pursue my dreams in the manner that I have, as this scholarship laid the foundation for me to continue pursuing my dreams and gave me hope that it was possible.”
Samsung American Legion Alumni Association Executive Advisory Committee
Greg “Doc” Gibbs
National Commander, Sons of The American Legion
Commander Gibbs was elected national commander of the Sons of The American Legion in Minneapolis, Minn., during the 47th national convention. He has served the Sons for over 19 years through the Hamburg Post #527 in Western New York and received an honorary life membership from his Squadron and Post in 2015. Hamburg is a suburb of Buffalo, NY and boasts - the largest Post in combined Legion Family membership in NY State. He is currently a tenured university professor and has served as a public school administrator, holding a doctorate/PhD degree from the University of New York at Buffalo in administration. As a tenured Associate Professor, Doc has chaired the Educational Leadership department and served as program director at St. Bonaventure University for the past 13 years.
As the only university faculty member on the “Veteran Friendly Campus Committee” at St. Bonaventure University, Greg has served on the committee since its inception. Setting policy and making recommendations to the university to create a better environment for admissions candidates from the military and newly enrolled veterans and their families.
Doc organized and ran the Erie County, NY level Oratorical Contest for the Legion for several years. He has served as a judge at the National Oratorical Contest and sat on the first committee to help organize the National Samsung American Legion Scholarship Alumni Association in 2016.
Doc comes from a three-star military family where his father and his two uncles all served in WWII and in Korea. His daughter and son have been members of the Legion family and he has been married to his wife Pam for over 44 years. Pam’s father, Albert Kramer II, also served in the Army just prior to the Korean War.
Chief of Staff, B2B Solutions and Services and Chief Advocate
Samsung Veterans Community at Samsung Electronics
Ridgefield Park, NJ
John is responsible for strategic and business planning, program management, organizational support services and critical issues management. As Chief Advocate of Samsung’s Veterans employee resource group, John leads cross company efforts and programs in support of its veteran’s community and in concert with both local and national veteran’s organizations.
Prior to joining Samsung in 2014, John was Director, Outsourcing and Offshoring Programs at UBS Financial Services. His previous assignments include senior leadership roles at Comcast, Blackberry and AT&T where he also led enterprise program offices and technical services teams. At AT&T, John was a member of the AT&T Network Disaster Recovery Command Team that provided business continuity and recovery for the AT&T Global Network.
During his 28+ years at AT&T, John held various leadership positions in Network Operations, Finance, Information Technology, Strategic and Business Planning, Quality Management, Industry Benchmarking and R&D Program Management.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., John received his B.S. in Management from St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia, PA and his MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, NJ.
John is an active volunteer in his church and community and enjoys family vacations, golf and nature walks with his family and pack of very spirited Jack Russell Terriers.
Chairman, National Committee on Youth Education
The American Legion
Michael was nominated as Chairman of the Committee on Youth Education in October 2018. He served as Arkansas Department Commander in 2017-2018. Michael joined the Legion in 2005 and is an original member of re-chartered Post 91 in Beebe. He has served on the National Americanism Council, and served as chairman of the Arkansas Department Committee on Children and Youth from 2013 to 2017. He is the editor of the Department of Arkansas publication, The Arkansas Legionnaire.
He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with an emphasis on mid-level math and science and has taught Math at Carlisle High School. Currently, he is working with young men who are enrolled in a Christian-based drug and alcohol recovery program. He offers mentoring and job skill training while providing necessary services to the local community.
At his home Post he has served as Post Adjutant, Children and Youth Committee Chair, Vice Commander, and Post Commander. Above Post level, he has served as the State First Vice Commander, District Commander, and District Executive Committeeman. He has also served two terms as District Vice Commander, District Financial Officer, and Vice Chairman of the American Legion Centennial Committee. He is a paid up for life member of American Legion Post 91.
Michael is a U.S. Air Force Veteran with 23 years of service on heavy airlift. He retired from active duty in 2003 at Little Rock AFB. His eligibility to be a member of the American Legion was first earned by serving during the Panama Conflict along with continued service during the Persian Gulf Conflict and War on Terrorism. His awards and citations include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Armed Service Expeditionary Medal, Marksmanship Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and the Outstanding Unit Award with Valor.
He has been married 14 years to Carol Westergren who is the past Auxiliary Department President and past Auxiliary National Executive Committeewoman. He has three adult children and one step son along with 7 grandchildren.
National Education Chairman, American Legion Auxiliary
Lisa has been a member of the American Legion Auxiliary for 28 years and obtains her eligibility through her father, Ray Allington, as well as her adoptive father, Keith LaChance. She also adds the military service of her son, Kyle, through who she also obtains her eligibility.
Lisa currently serves as Alaska’s National Executive Committeewoman, and welcomes the opportunity serve on National’s Education Committee. She has served as National Chairman in the following programs: Junior Activities, Community Service, Public Relations, Constitution & Bylaws, Legislative and Auxiliary Emergency Fund. She previously served as Alaska's NEC during 2009-2010, and Department of Alaska President in 2008-2009. Lisa has held most Department offices and several chairmanships, and she continues to hold a Department chairmanship. Lisa is also a member of The American Legion Riders and 8 & 40.
In her professional life, Lisa has had her State of Alaska Real Estate License for 16 years, and has been an Associate Broker for six years. As well, she has three NAR designations –At Home With Diversity designation, giving her the tools to work with people from all cultures and various or diverse backgrounds; ePro designation, which helps her market real estate on the always-changing internet; and Certified Military Relocation Specialist, understanding that today’s military have special circumstances and time constraints when purchasing or selling a home.