Student earns $200,000 scholarship

Author: Gail Burkhardt

If I Were Mayor

Central Catholic High School senior Emerald Woodberry has received one of the largest scholarships in Toledo history.

Woodberry earned the $200,000 scholarship to the University of Notre Dame through the QuestBridge National College Match program. QuestBridge links bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation’s best colleges, according to its Web site.

Woodberry started looking at Notre Dame when she applied and was accepted into the African-American Scholars Program at the university the summer before her senior year. She really liked the school and bonded with the other students. The program accepted only 50 students in the country.

“We just had a lot of fun that week,”Woodberry said.

Mona McGhee, Woodberry’s college counselor at Central, picked up Woodberry from Notre Dame because Woodberry’s mother had to work.

When McGhee arrived, the staff at Notre Dame told McGhee what a great leader Woodberry had been throughout the week, she said.

In September, Greg Owens, an academic adviser at Central, told Woodberry to apply for the QuestBridge scholarship. He had done research online and found that Woodberry met the qualifications.

Woodberry was"fabulous"to work with, McGhee said. She turned everything in early and always worked hard.

“Emerald’s attitude has always been, ‘I can do better,’”McGhee said. Woodberry also"took risks that other kids didn’t want to take."

Woodberry’s attitude and risk-taking paid off. In December, she was notified that she had received a full scholarship to Notre Dame.

“It was like a Christmas present to all of us,”McGhee said.

“I’m happy about it. When I first got it, I didn’t know what to think,”Woodberry said. She even double-checked to make sure she really had won the scholarship.

Woodberry is a member of the National Honor Society and is a Regents Scholar, which is a special program for students with grade point averages higher than 4.0.

She volunteers at Learners for Life Child Development Center and at CRS Assisted Living, working with adults with special needs.

Her mother, Cheryl Woodberry, works at both places.
Emerald Woodberry is also a member of the golf team, the African-American Club and Gospel choir. She is on the executive board for student council at Central.

“Taking on a leadership role gives you a step up in the game,”Woodberry said, explaining that leadership roles give her initiative and make her want to do better.“People are watching you, and they have high expectations.”

Woodberry’s family has always been supportive. She received a proclamation for her achievement from the Lucas County commissioners Dec. 16, and her proud mother, aunt, uncles and cousins were there.

“We’ve always kept God in our lives,”said her mother.

Woodberry attends Friendship Baptist Church. She attended St. Mary’s School from first through sixth grade; St. Charles School for seventh and eighth grades; and then went on to Central Catholic. She wants to pursue a degree in business or journalism at Notre Dame.

When Woodberry accepted the award, she said she was excited about the opportunity to go to Notre Dame and continue to be Fighting Irish. She thanked her family, especially her mother.
Her mom saw the potential in her daughter. Success has to start at home, she said, adding that she did as much as she could to help her daughter, including checking her homework.

Her mom is a pre-school teacher and also supervises people with special needs.

“I’ve always known Emerald had talent,”said cousin Debralyn Woodberry-Shaw.“She worked hard to get where she is now,”she said, adding that Woodberry"broke all of the stereotypes"for black women.

If Woodberry were mayor,“I would work with Toledo schools to train teachers better and make more programs for the kids. I would make more workshops for teachers and more after-school programs to make students more prepared for school,”she said.“I would also create a transition class for high school kids because it is rough coming from junior high to high school.”

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