Samford sophomore Jenaé Steele of Montgomery, Ala., has her career path mapped out and is working hard to make it happen. She aspires to become a lawyer and ultimately a judge, with a goal of helping people who might have been wrongly prosecuted.
“Namely, the poor, the minority, the undocumented,” she said. “This applies to all races.”
Steele, a prelaw student, has a double major (history and psychology) and a double minor (Latin American studies and Spanish). She hopes to use her minors to help America’s skyrocketing Latino population.
“A language barrier is making a lot of victims or accusees voiceless, and it’s got to stop,” she said.
Steele enjoyed a successful freshman year at Samford, joining the debate team and singing in the Gospel Choir. “Jenaé had a strong novice year and advanced to the elimination rounds in her first tournament,” said Samford debate director Ryan Galloway.
“She is enjoyable, lively, talkative and a good researcher.”
But after that success, she encountered a funding problem. Her Expected Family Contribution [EFC], the figure used to calculate the amount of federal aid for which she was eligible, declined. Her family needed additional scholarship aid for her to continue at Samford.
With the help of Howard College of Arts and Sciences Dean David Chapman, Steele was awarded financial assistance from the Baggett Scholarship, enabling her to return. She is making the most of it, carrying 21 credits and continuing to debate.
Debate “enhances my self expression,” said Steele. After a year on the team, “My thought process is faster [and] so is my reading.” The Samford debate website describes her as “one of our rising stars.” She credits Galloway and debate coach Abi Williams with creating “an environment in which I grow and learn to think outside the box.”
Steele said receiving the Baggett Scholarship, which was funded by the estate of former Alabama Baptist editor Hudson Baggett, inspired her to work harder. “It also meant less stress on my parents, those who care about me, and me,” she added.
Steele said she especially enjoys the Gospel Choir because it helps her renew herself spiritually. She also enjoys her involvement with Delta Sigma Theta sorority, which she helped reactivate on campus. She describes it as “a sisterhood of service and scholarship.”
If Steele has one regret about her sophomore year, it’s that she doesn’t have time to enjoy her avocation of ultimate Frisbee, where teammates nicknamed her “Hands.” Chances are, she will figure a way to get back to the sport before too long.