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Cleo and Leroy Steagall Family Scholarship Supports Woodward Grads Attending HBCUs

A new scholarship honoring the parents of four Woodward Career Technical High School alumni turned educators is helping today’s students prepare for their first year at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Cleo and Leroy Steagall never completed college but always insisted their children would make family history and graduate one day. Tamara Steagall-Johnson was the first of four sisters to attend a HBCU before returning to her alma mater to begin her education career. She now teaches science at The Promise Center, while intervention specialist Angela Steagall-Gilmore is the last remaining sister at Woodward.

Now, Tamara and her sisters are giving back to the school that’s meant so much to them by supporting Woodward students who want to attend HBCUs like they did.

“I just feel so blessed to be able to bless somebody else, I can’t even describe it,” Tamara said. “I never thought that I would be able to do this.” 

Beginning with Woodward’s class of 2023, the annual scholarship provides at least one graduating student with $1,000 before their freshman year at a HBCU. An online application opens from January through March, and recipients are announced at Woodward’s senior luncheon each May.

Recent graduate Sirron Baker joined Jeremy Brand as the first two students honored, and they both happen to be attending Wilberforce University, Tamara’s alma mater.

There are only two requirements to apply: students must graduate from Woodward with a minimum 2.0 GPA and be enrolled to attend an HBCU in the fall. Applicants must also submit a 500-to-1,000-word essay on lessons learned throughout school and advice they’d give to their younger selves.

“College allows you an opportunity to reinvent yourself,” Angela said. “It’s not how you start the journey but how you end the race.”

Angela’s classroom is decorated with colorful pennants and flags from different HBCUs. She is one of several Woodward staff members able to share her experience attending one of these historic schools and introduce students to that culture before they start thinking about college plans.

Without this scholarship, and teachers like Angela, many students would be unaware of all the postgraduate options available to them. That’s why Tamara is calling on her fellow Woodward alumni to step up and make a difference for the future generations to follow.

“I want to set an example because we have to give back and be a part of the village to help the kids,” Tamara said. “These kids need and want assistance and support.”

Because Tamara is so proud of the program’s first two recipients and their successful transitions to Wilberforce, she also gifted them their own HP ProBook laptops in addition to scholarship funds.

Tamara and Angela feel fortunate to have started the program in their parents’ memory and to continue impacting students’ lives at the school their family knows as home.

For more information on local scholarship programs, visit the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation’s website here: https://cincinnatischolarshipfoundation.org/list-of-scholarships-new/.