Dr. Leon Stennis graduated from Youngstown State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Advertising and Public Relations and in 2001 with a Master of Arts degree in English. Leon also served as news editor in the Office of Marketing and Communications and later as coordinator of diversity initiatives at YSU, before retiring in 2005. 

After his retirement, he earned a Ph.D. in English, with an emphasis on literature and criticism, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania at the age of 69. After earning his doctorate, he served as an adjunct professor of English. He taught freshman composition and literature at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio for four years. He later returned to YSU to teach freshman composition for three years, before retiring again in 2019. 

A military veteran, Leon also served as a journalist with the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve for six years, serving in Jacksonville, Florida, Puerto Rico, Morocco, and Youngtown. Cheryl Stennis graduated from YSU in 1978 with an Associate of Applied Business in business education. She served as a nursing assistant at several area nursing homes before retiring in 2007. The Stennis’ daughters, Leenisha Jean Stennis, and Pamela Lynn Stennis Sarratt are also graduates of YSU. Leon says, “Cheryl and I have the privilege of having a long relationship with YSU and benefiting from that relationship in one way or another since the 1960s. We want to give something back with this scholarship.” This scholarship is for an African American undergraduate or graduate student with preference to military veterans and to those students majoring in business administration, english, journalism, music composition, music education, music performance or music recording technology.