Shawnee grad wins first Coles Roberts Grant

Erin Hartman will use funds to continue fight against sexual violence.

Erin Hartman is pictured here with Medford-Vincentown Rotary
President, Wally Burdalski and Rotarians Jonathon Dewees and David Stow

Erin Hartman always knew she wanted to dedicate her life to helping other people.

“It was just more of a question how I was going to devote my life to service, not a matter of whether or not I was going to,” she explained.

After graduating from Shawnee High School in 2014, Hartman went to the University of Pennsylvania to become a nurse. Since then, she’s concentrated on prevention of violence against women across the globe.

Hartman worked for Patty Murray on the state Senate health committee, got hands-on experience as a sexual assault forensic examiner and staff nurse in New York City and created a global training program with the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.

Now, she’s continuing her education in the United Kingdom, studying international human rights law and practice after receiving the exclusive Marshall Scholarship.

“For me, I think of your career as your life’s work,” Hartman said. “I think it should be solving a problem and then trying to make something better.”

To supplement her scholarship, Erin received the first-ever Coles Roberts Humanitarian Grant from the Medford-Vincentown Rotary Club, an organization where she has deep ties.

At Shawnee, Hartman was the president of Interact, the high school’s branch of the Rotary. She attended the Rotary’s RYLA leadership camp and spent time participating in Rotary-sponsored service projects.

“Erin is a pretty amazing lady,” said Rotary President Wally Burdalski. “We thought that we should make the grant something special.”

The Rotary Club decided to name the grant after Coles Roberts, a longtime member and former president of the club who died last August.

“He was a very nice guy, very soft spoken,” Burdalski recalled. “You would never know he had accomplished anything in his life if you didn’t read about it, because he never would tell you.”

Roberts was a Southampton apple farmer remembered by many for his dedication to the community. Burdalski said in Roberts’ many years at the Rotary, he never missed a meeting.

Roberts’ grant went to Hartman because her work embodied the same spirit of community service that its namesake had, Burdalski said.

To Hartman, humanitarianism is a lifelong commitment.

“I think that like devoting yourself to those who are in need or those who don’t have as much or to future generations, can exist in your own backyard or can also exist halfway across the world,” she noted. “It’s just this dedication to service, and to help someone else fulfill their own goals, their own human rights, their own sense of security.”

Future Coles Roberts Humanitarian grants will be reserved for people like Hartman and Roberts who go above and beyond in their work for other people and pursue scholarship, according to Burdalski. 

After she graduates from The University of York, Hartman plans to continue her education at another United Kingdom university. 

“I would love to work for an international organization and run their programming around this issue on the ground,” she said. “Sexual violence was something that made me the most sad, in a sense, but something I can definitely devote my life to working on.”