The endowment for this award was left to the Department of Biological Sciences by the estate of Ella P. Stewart, class of 1916, to be used toward an annual prize of a book store certificate by a deserving first year student. It is presented once a year at the beginning of the fall term during the Department of Biological Sciences kick-off meeting.
Ella P. Stewart was an extraordinary woman with an equally extraordinary career. A recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1969, Stewart was born in 1893 as Ella Nora Phillips in Stringtown, West Virginia. Stewart originally studied to be an educator, however chose to withdraw from her training in order to marry Charles Myers. Sometime later, Stewart began work at a local pharmacy as a bookkeeper. There an interest in pharmacy blossomed, inspiring her to apply for admission to the Pittsburgh College of Pharmacy. Despite initial obstacles from the college, Stewart was admitted in 1914 and graduated as Mrs. Ella Phillips Myers with a Ph.G. in 1916. As a result, Stewart became the first African American woman in the United States licensed to practice pharmacy. Two pharmacies of her own and a divorce later, Stewart married fellow alumnus, William Stewart in 1920. The couple then moved to Youngstown, Ohio and later to Detroit, Michigan. While in Detroit, Stewart learned that nearby Toledo, Ohio did not have any pharmacies owned by people of color.
Her response was to open Stewart’s Pharmacy in 1922. Stewart’s career, however, did not end there. In fact, she became an important figure in Toledo by participating in local and national organizations such as the Enterprise Charity Club, and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). Stewart served as president of the NACW from 1948 until 1952. In 1963, Stewart was appointed commissioner to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In addition, Stewart served as the vice president of the US Chapter of the Pan-Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA) from 1960 to 1962, and was the international vice president at large from 1961 to 1964. In 1978, Stewart was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame. However, beyond such grand examples of her achievements and accolades, Stewart was also honored by the simple naming of an elementary school in Toledo: the Ella P. Stewart Elementary School. In short, Ella P. Stewart fought her entire life against the barriers of racism and triumphed over them with great dignity and an effortless grace. Sadly, Stewart passed away in 1987.
For more information, please refer to the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University:
Previous winners of the Ella P. Stewart Award:
|Ella P. Stewart Awardee
|Earl Goldsborough III
|Quynh N. Vo
|Lance A. Mabus