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Brett Lerner and his father, Rich Pomerantz, used to spend a lot of time watching ESPN. The two joked about Lerner being the next Mike Greenberg. During Lerner’s time at the U of I, he displayed the skill and determination required to make that kind of career possible – even though Lerner wasn’t an athlete and didn’t have any high-level connections.

Lerner’s time was cut short in October of 2015 by a car accident. He was on his way to do what he loved most – cover a sporting event.

A broadcast journalism major, Lerner was in his junior year in the College of Media. He had worked at The Daily Illini, the Big Ten Network, ESPN C-U, Illini Productions, and WPGU. He had interned with the Tay & J show and at WCIA. That hard work, his meticulous preparation and his innate skill earned him the respect of his classmates and coworkers.

“I don’t want him to be forgotten,” Pomerantz said. “His work ethic; how much he had accomplished in a short time. He was such a bulldog and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

The outpouring of grief from students, faculty and family was overwhelming. In a few short months, Lerner’s family and friends created the Brett Lerner Memorial Scholarship Fund. Lerner had touched hundreds of lives and the donations came in quickly.

“Brett wasn’t able to fulfill his dream,” Pomerantz said. “We want to help someone else have a successful career.”

The College of Media is pleased to announce the first recipient of the scholarship, Walker Post, a junior in journalism.  Post is the Vice-President of the Illinois chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and has also worked at WPGU. This summer he interned with WTTW’s flagship program “Chicago Tonight.”

“Words cannot describe how meaningful it is to be the recipient of this award,” Post wrote. “I never had the opportunity to meet Brett, but we shared many mutual friends, all of whom gave nothing but ringing endorsement of his character.”

Lerner’s reputation will continue through the impact he had on his family, friends and fellow students, and through this new scholarship for talented journalism students at the University of Illinois.   

If you would like to help honor Brett Lerner’s life and legacy at the U of I through a gift to the Brett Lerner Memorial Scholarship, please visit the giving page. Or, you may make a gift by check or money order payable to UIF/Brett Lerner Memorial Scholarship in Journalism and mail to: University of Illinois Foundation, 1305 West Green Street, MC-386, Urbana, Illinois 61801.

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