Pressley Memorial Scholarship to Bring Opportunities for College of Health Science Students

Published on November 22, 2020

Eastern Kentucky University’s Dr. Sheila Pressley advocated for and promoted opportunity for students. It’s only fitting that a scholarship bearing her name will provide opportunities to students who want to better themselves through education at EKU. Today Eastern Kentucky University, in partnership with the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing and Kentucky River Foothills Development Council is proud to announce the Dr. Sheila Pressley Opportunity Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit residents of the Eastern Scholar House who are pursuing a degree in the College of Health Sciences.

“Dr. Pressley was the embodiment of the word opportunity. EKU is the School of Opportunity, and Sheila lived it every day, not just with words, but with her commitment to our institution, our students, our student athletes and their success,” said EKU President Dr. David McFaddin. “I can think of no better way to honor her legacy here than to have a scholarship that helps those that need it most named in her honor.”

“Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing (OCCH) is proud to help aspiring students who are residents of the EKU Scholar House work toward their dreams through the Pressley Scholarship,” said Rick McQuady, an OCCH board member and Eastern alumnus. “The intent behind the Pressley Scholarship parallels the mission of OCCH’s philanthropic affiliate, Ohio Capital Impact Corporation (OCIC), to positively impact the lives of lower income students pursuing a degree through higher education.”  

OCCH, has committed millions of dollars since 2014 to provide scholarships for low-income students, and is the chief financial resource behind the Dr. Sheila Pressley Opportunity Endowed Scholarship. 

“Exemplifying hope and compassion, Dr. Sheila Pressley championed the success of others and influenced the trajectory of countless lives. As one who believed that opportunity can open the most impenetrable doors, this scholarship, dedicated in Dr. Pressley’s honor could not be more appropriately named,” said Dr. Vicki Jozefowicz, Chief Administrative Officer of Kentucky River Foothills Development Council. Jozefowicz played an instrumental part in securing funds for the scholarship. 

The announcement coincides with the inaugural Opportunity Bowl, being played in honor of Dr. Pressley's life and accomplishments, her passion for education and students, and love of EKU Athletics. EKU is hosting the Opportunity Bowl in her memory on Nov.  21 at Roy Kidd Stadium. At the Bowl, the Colonels will take on Western Carolina University, Dr. Pressley's undergraduate alma mater. “I am thrilled that OCCH and OCIC chose to partner with EKU to support the Pressley Scholarship, which will benefit numerous residents of Scholar House. It is great to see EKU continue to provide innovative and phenomenal opportunities for students,” said McQuady.

Dr. Pressley served as Dean of the College of Health Sciences for nearly three years and worked at the University for nearly 16 years overall. She earned graduate degrees from Tufts University and the University of Kentucky. UK awarded her the Lyman T. Johnson Torch of Excellence Award, which honors outstanding African American alumni. 

She participated in conservation efforts in Zimbabwe, spent a year with the Environmental Protection Agency's Great Lakes National Program Office, and served with several nonprofit agencies. She was an active member of both the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) and the Academy of Sanitarians. As an EKU faculty member, she became the first African American to chair the EKU Faculty Senate. Dr. Pressley also served as the university Faculty Athletics Representative, co-chair of the New Faculty Orientation Committee, and a member of the Presidential Search Committee, Strategic Planning Steering Committee, NCAA EKU Athletics Certification Committee, and the Diversity Planning Council.  She was also active in supporting Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., of which she was a proud member. 

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