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Supernova Legacy Scholarship is how fans honor Sam Heughan!

Ever since we met him, as the face of the charming Highlander Jamie Fraser in the STARZ time travel drama, Outlander, but also off-camera, as a spokesman for great charitable causes and ambassador of Scotland, Sam Heughan has inspired and conquered our hearts in so many different ways. What better way to pay it back than to give someone the opportunity to follow his path thanks to a arts scholarship in his honor? It’s precisely this double cause that motivated the legendary founders of the Supernova Legacy Scholarship!

supernova legacy scholarship
Nicole Johnson, Lisa Shaw, Sandra Gutteriez, Bridget Dinehart, Susie Reynolds, Megan Caughern, interviewed by Chiara and Desirée from Survived The Shows.

We at Survived The Shows had the pleasure of having a very pleasant chat via Zoom with the amazing team who gave life to the Supernova Legacy Scholarship: Nicole Johnson, Lisa Shaw, Sandra Gutteriez, Bridget Dinehart, Susie Reynolds and Megan Caughern. They told us some curiosities and funny stories on how this wonderful initiative was born.

Marked by different personal stories, but with a great common motivation, this explosive group of women has created an initiative that best represents the philosophy that their idol Sam Heughan carries out: pay the favor of many emotions given back and give in turn someone the opportunity to follow their dreams.

It all began in the summer of 2020, when Sandra and Nicole, two of the founders of the project, had the same idea to contact the Royal Consevatoire of Scotland (RCS), an academy of dramatic arts where the Outlander star studied.

The most paradoxical thing is that they found themselves taking parallel paths, towards the same goal, but without knowing of their mutual intentions.

“Nikki and Sandra basically had the same idea at the same time and they both contacted RCS in, I think, a month within each other? And Julie Reynolds, their contact at RCS, told them, “Why don’t you two work together? Since you have more or less the usual ideas and you’re trying to achieve the same goal”. Then Nikki and Megan started to set up some sort of plan. Then Sandra, Bridget, Susie and I started to do the same, trying to put our strengths together.”

Lisa Shaw

With some of them working in education, and personal stories in support, a scholarship seemed the most logical choice.

As Lisa, also founder, points out, the help of a scholarship like Supernova Legacy is important, thinking about how often circumstances in someone’s life can prevent them from pursuing their dreams.

We all have a personal stories whereby the scholarship made more sense to pay it back and at the same time give someone else an opportunity (to study). And RCS made sense because we’re here because of Sam, we love him not only as an actor but also as a philanthropist. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him, and he wouldn’t have had the career he had if it wasn’t for RCS, so let’s just say it’s all connected.

Lisa Shaw

As Nicole explained, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been very much on board with the initiative since the beginning. 

However, they both wanted to hear from Sam (Heughan) first, before creating something in his name. At that point, RCS contacted him and he was very impressed, and gave the green light to the project around Thanksgiving 2020.

The Scottish university not only gave its approval but it has played an integral part in the project from the very beginning. Mostly taking care of the financial side, it’s got the girls off a real pain in the ass. They created and managed the Just Giving page to which donations go and also the monetary unit transfer, Nicole explained.

Moreover, their commitment to RCS is a three-year commitment, being it a proper commitment to the school, not just a single fundraising.

“Once we reach our goal, then we and RCS will issue a memorandum of understanding to determine the amount of money allocated. Considering how taxes are different depending on whether you are students residing in Scotland, the UK or International students.” explains Lisa. “They have a very regular scholarship program, for which criteria are set and we’re absolutely not trying to hijack it, but we will work alongside them. You know, with them in the driving seat.”

Speaking of behind the scenes in the building of the Supernova Legacy Scholarship…

Everything else was all these six handyman girls’ work, who pushed their limits, going out of their comfort zone in this endeavor. The creation of a wonderful project like this and a friendship like this, explains Sandra, has featured many Zoom sessions, discussions, fun and less fun moments.

Talking about funny stories, Lisa shared with us how they came up with the name Supernova Legacy

The girls wanted to make a kind of metaphorical pun by combining Sam’s passion for space with the fact that a RCS student becomes a bright star, a supernova, as Sam did.

Sandra also adds that as the circle drawn around the word ‘legacy’ in the logo, which is a circle that in gaelic means ‘arrived’. It’s mainly a circle that people draw in times of hardship. “For us it was significant to have that circle (in the logo) as we are all, or have been in our lives, involved in some sort of time of hardship, like just the rest of the world. It all began magically to combine and we could only be proud of how far we have come… with so many Zoom hours.” concludes her.

It’s been, and still is, a fun ride in every way for Sandra, Lisa, Nicole, and all the other girls.

They’ve found theirselves doing things they would have never imagined, such as designing a logo, writing press releases or reading legal information. Once they received the green light from RCS, they also had to activate a whole public relations plan to encourage people with prizes and raffle tickets.

“There are businesses in Scotland that donated prizes because they respect Sam and support our initiative. For example, Pricky Thrisle has donated many materials and prizes, the Scottish Photography Experience donated, the Sassenach Candle Company donated… These are some of the companies that we have reached and we are constantly reaching people by asking whether they want to support the initiative even just by spreading the word, advertising our site, or if they want to actually donate something…”

Lisa Shaw

It’s amazing the inseparable bond that’s been created between these girls, even though they’ve never met in person. Great Twitter contributors and proud Peakers, they are a very dynamic group, tied by their admiration for Sam and their desire to spread his philosophy on uniting a global community and helping the others.

“We became friends, real friends, but originally we were Twitter acquaintances and fellow fangirl. This then turned into friendship, a totally legitimate friendship. You know, we live in this world now because of Covid-19, but once that circumstance is gone, we’re definitely going to meet in person, because we’re not just Outlander fans.”

Anyone, from any part of the world, can join the project and donate.

Just go to their website, and make a donation. It’s possible to donate directly through the Just Giving page or by purchasing merchandise, whose profit will be entirely donated to the scholarship.

You can find the full video of our interview below!

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Chiara Lombatti
Chiara Lombatti
When Cristina Yang’s mankind hate, and Sherlock Holmes’ deductive skills meet Randall Pearson’s anxiety and Jamie Fraser’s multilingualism (featuring Claire Fraser’s curls and Kate Pearson’s voice). Translator and feature article with a great love for cinema, TV series and books.


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