Friends and family want Vitalya “Tally” Sepot to be remembered for more than the tragic car crash that she died in last fall.
Tally, who was 19, should also be remembered for being a sister, daughter and friend, a Penn State sophomore, who volunteered for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. She and six other students were returning from a canning weekend, during which they collected donations for Thon, when the crash occurred.
During Greek Hour at Thon in February, her family said that she called Penn State and Thon “her happy place.” Her parents, Joe and Claudia, recently ensured their daughter would permanently be memorialized through Thon, according to a Penn State release.
The Sepots made a gift to establish the Tally Sepot Memorial Award, which will be given each year to “a student who demonstrates outstanding service to Penn State and Thon,” according to the release. The effort was supported by the Lombra family and friends and Connecticut neighbors of the Sepots.
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“This award is an amazing way for the Thon community to remember Tally,” Thon spokeswoman Sam Sherlock said. “We are thankful that Tally’s family is working with university development to create such an award. It truly is a beautiful way for her legacy to live on and we are excited to see the first recipient receive this award in the upcoming year.”
Ray Lombra is a professor of economics, senior adviser to the dean of the College of the Liberal Arts and an alumnus of the college, and his daughter Sherri Lombra is a Smeal College of Business alumna.
After her passing, someone coined the phrase #LiveLikeTally, a call to smile a little more, regret a little less, and be your own person.
“As parents, we send our children off to college hoping they made the right choice, hoping they’ve chosen a place where they’ll be academically challenged and socially accepted for who they are,” Joe Sepot said in a release. “From the first time her mother took Tally to visit Penn State and she heard ‘We Are!,’ I think right there Tally found the place that could match her spirit and enthusiasm. She truly found a second home at Penn State.”
Tally was Sherri Lombra’s friend.
“She had such a fundamental belief in selflessly doing well for others,” Sherri Lombra said in a release. “She loved Thon and all that it stood for and proudly aligned herself with Thon from her early days on campus. ... Tally embodied everything to me that was amazingly wonderful about the time I spent at Penn State. It’s that feeling you want to carry with you long after you leave campus. She loved everything that Penn State was about.”
They hope the award will inspire others.
“In her short life, Tally touched so many people with her infectious smile, humor, caring nature and irresistible personality,” Tally’s father said. “After her passing, someone coined the phrase #LiveLikeTally, a call to smile a little more, regret a little less, and be your own person. We hope this award will help inspire others to live in this way.”