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Elijah Woodward was named the first winner of East Central University’s Allyson and Talor Stewart Honors Scholarship. The award was announced at the ECU Honors Program Convocation in August when 38 new first-year students were welcomed into the Honors Program, the largest incoming class for the program in the last 11 years.

Woodward is an ECU senior from Fitzhugh, majoring in Molecular Biology and also a member of ECU’s Cross Country team. Woodward joined the Honors Program during the spring semester of his freshman year, earning the “Outstanding Newcomer” award that semester. He later joined the Honors Student Association’s Leadership Team and recently completed a 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Institute for the Study of Kidney Disease at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Woodward’s Honors Thesis focuses on the “Sherlock System,” which helps with RNA detection and could be used as an easy and reliable way to test for viruses and other pathogens. He is the son of Rosalinda Woodward, a custodian in ECU’s Stonecipher School of Business.

The Stewart Honors Scholarship was created thanks to a generous donation from ECU Honors alumni Allyson and Talor Stewart. The two graduated in spring 2018 with full University Honors. The scholarship is designed to go to students like Woodward who – like the Stewarts – joined the Honors Program without the benefit of an Honors or other higher-level academic scholarship.

Each fall, around 30 first-year Oklahoma resident students are admitted to the Honors Program with 4-year scholarships worth $14,000 or more. Other students join the program regardless of scholarship eligibility.  

“Many of the best students in the program are not eligible for these scholarships because they are international students, residents of other states, transfer students, or students who join the program after completing the first semester of their freshman year,” said Dr. Steve Benton, director of the Honors Program. “The Stewart Scholarship offers encouragement to students who initially joined the program for its intrinsic benefits alone.”

Allyson Stewart joined the Honors Program after the first semester of her freshman year and later met Talor, who was also in the program. The two worked together in the Honors office and served on the Honors Student Association’s Leadership Team where Talor was president.

After graduating, the couple were married. Allyson and Talor enrolled in law school and graduate school, respectively, at the University of Oklahoma. Allyson worked as a family law attorney for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and has recently transitioned into a grant management position within Legal Aid where she oversees a federal grant aimed at reducing evictions and homelessness in Oklahoma.

Talor graduated with his Doctorate of Physical Therapy from OU and worked for Physical Therapy Central. He now works for Providence Home Care, providing home health physical therapy for post-surgical and geriatric patients.

For more information or to apply for ECU’s Honors Program, visit

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