Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship

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The YWCA Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund

Mamie Earl Sells was committed to young people, promoting programs that encouraged them to expand and improve their personal lives and career opportunities. This scholarship is dedicated to her memory, honoring her loyalty and service to the community through her volunteer work in the arts, education, racial justice programs and social services. Personally dedicated to the YWCA during the last decade of her life, Mamie played a leadership role in developing the Career Women of Achievement event and served as board member, vice president of membership and overall friend to the YWCA.

This scholarship award honors Mamie’s philosophy that we must “lift as we climb,” meaning that we must act as role models and mentors to the young women of today and tomorrow.

The YWCA Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 to provide financial assistance and support to an outstanding African-American female Greater Cincinnati high school senior entering a post-secondary institution. The scholarship is offered annually in conjunction with the YWCA Career Women of Achievement Luncheon. A committee evaluates and updates the scholarship application, assists in its distribution and promotion, and selects 10 finalists, who include two runners-up and one winner. Evaluation criteria include academic record, personal challenges and hardships, ACT and/or SAT scores, letters of recommendation, class rank, honors and awards, involvement in extra-curricular activities and community service, and employment history. Applicants are required to write two brief essays, one describing their greatest challenge and how it has affected them, and one explaining what Mamie Earl Sells’ philosophy, “Lift as we climb,” means to them.

The application process for 2020 is now closed.

For questions, email Sophia Gilligan Helms or call (513) 361-2127.


The 2019 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship was presented by The Kroger Co. The recipient was honored at the 40th Annual Career Women of Achievement Luncheon on May 8, 2019.


2019 Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund Winner

anna kay spenserAnna-Kay Spenser

Western Hills University High School earning dual credit from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College

Anna-Kay is an A student who has won awards as the top student in government, English, social studies and mathematics. She’s also the recipient of the Principal’s Award. Anna-Kay has taken advanced courses through Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in English composition and toward certification as an emergency medical technician (EMT). Anna-Kay, who ranks first in her class, will start nursing school in the fall with the ultimate goal of becoming a nurse anesthetist. She also hopes to continue community service as she has for the last two years working as a volunteer pharmacy technician, on an election campaign and as a poll worker for the Hamilton County Board of Elections.

Her journey has been difficult. Anna-Kay began her studies in Jamaica where she traveled 15 miles just to find a library and the Internet. When her parents broke up she had to fend for herself until her grandmother, with just a ninth grade education, became her guardian. Anna-Kay yearned for an academic mentor until she realized she had to discover her academic route on her own. Armed with intense self-motivation, she immigrated to the United States in 2017 with determination to maintain the highest academic standards possible so that she could be a first generation college graduate and obtain a stable professional career.

Says teacher Elizabeth Thole, “Anna-Kay is one of the most outstanding students I’ve had the pleasure to work with in my 33-year teaching career.  She is highly motivated, intelligent and focused.”

Watch Anna-Kay’s video on our YouTube Channel!


See where all of our Scholarship winners attended High School and were accepted into College.