As many of you know, my daddy passed away in January 2017 at the age of 57 after a hard fought battle with colon cancer. His loss has been devastating for me. I’ve written about my grief and continue to process life without him. Grief will be with me forever. I’ve accepted that and have been trying to put some of my emotions into something positive that would extend my daddy’s legacy.
Back in 2014, I wrote myself a note of dreams that I didn’t show anyone. One of the dreams on that list was to establish a scholarship. 5 years later, I could have never imagined that the scholarship would be a memorial scholarship in honor of my daddy, but I’m learning that sometimes our dreams don’t manifest the way we initially imagined. Instead, God has a way of bringing our dreams into reality in far greater ways than we could have imagined. My daddy was always a strong prominent of education. He valued education and instilled that in us so, doing a scholarship aligns with something that was important to him. As well, my daddy graduated from North College Hill (NCH) High School and so did myself and 2 of my siblings. As well, all 8 of my daddy’s siblings, my grandmother, and a host of cousins and other family members graduated from NCH, which makes the scholarship being there even more special.
The Leonard A. Johnson Sr. Memorial Scholarship (under the North College Hill Scholarship Foundation) has been a labor of love. There were so many people who helped make this a reality. My husband Emmanuel got the ball rolling by contacting the school and discovering the process for setting up a scholarship. He was instrumental in getting it off the ground and doing the initial leg work. I’m so grateful for my husband who selflessly gives and wanted to help me honor my daddy in this way. I’m thankful for the administrators at NCH who made the process easy and were supportive of us getting it off the ground. I’m thankful for my friends, Laura & Steve, who graciously and patiently, helped me develop the website and create a space where people could learn more about who my daddy was, what the scholarship is about, and how to contribute to the scholarship if they felt led. I am forever grateful for their support and encouragement in making this a reality. Because family is important to me and my daddy, I wanted this to be something my siblings and I did together. Once we got the ball rolling, I invited them to be part of this scholarship and they agreed. It feels great to do something as siblings to honor my daddy. I think he’d be proud of us.
The Leonard A. Johnson Sr. Memorial Scholarship will annually award three students each a $1000 scholarship toward their college expenses. This May, we will get to award the first three students with the scholarship. My siblings, our spouses, and I have already contributed the $3000 for the students this year to receive the scholarship. Our hope moving forward is that the scholarship would be a communal effort funded by people who loved my daddy, love my siblings and I, or want to be part of continuing his legacy. Our hope is that this scholarship would go on far past any of our lives and that generations would know the man my daddy was and impact he had on me and so many others.
So for my birthday (April 22nd) this year, I’m asking that instead of folks giving me something or even saying kind words about me, that you would consider donating to the Leonard A. Sr. Memorial Scholarship, which benefits high school seniors at North College Hill High School. Any amount is greatly appreciated and it will be open all year for you to donate! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my birthday this year than by honoring the man who helped give me life. I hope you’ll join me in continuing his legacy.
Photo credit: Dr. Stephen Becker