Mariah Ambrose, a 2021 Waterloo East High School graduate, is the recipient of Wartburg College’s R.J. McElroy Minority Scholarship.


Ambrose, the daughter of Leslie Kingery and Kevin Ambrose, will major in business.

“In the time I have known Mariah, I have seen her as a focused, resilient and dedicated learner. I have also seen her as a person who cares for others, who consistently thinks beyond herself and who carries herself with poise, regardless of the situation she is in,” wrote Matt Tracy, a teacher at East High. “Mariah…is hungry to learn and grow, and she will ask questions and take chances in order to make that happen. When many students are content with keeping under the radar, Mariah is constantly taking educational risks in order to better herself.”

It is this drive, and family connection that dates back to her great-grandfather, Mel Kramer, who led the college’s business department for 40 years, that led Ambrose to Wartburg.

“I like being involved and getting to know people. I didn’t want to be a number. I know Wartburg has a close-knit community, and I’m looking forward to participating in Student Senate and other organizations where I can help make a difference.”

In addition to her impressive school transcripts, Ambrose is well-known in the community where she volunteers through Teens Need Truth, a youth group at her church; as a student ambassador for the Educational Talent Search program; and with the Mother Moon Community Service Club. She also works at Try Pie Bakery, a social enterprise youth ministry that uses employment to develop women for their futures. In addition to earning a paycheck, Ambrose also participated in the organization’s financial literacy courses and worked with a mentor who helped her with goal setting and budgeting.

McElroy, a pioneer Iowa broadcaster who died in 1965, made a provision in his will for the establishment of a trust fund, the proceeds of which were to be used for the educational benefit of deserving young people. Wartburg College annually partners with the R.J. McElroy Trust to award a full-tuition scholarship to one student from the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area. Awards are renewable up to four years.

“My family isn’t able to help me pay for college, so this scholarship has helped make coming to Wartburg possible. A goal of mine is to graduate with as little student debt as possible so I can start with a good step forward,” Ambrose said. “I don’t want college debt hanging over my head as an adult. I want to go down a different road than my family. Now I won’t have to worry as much, and I can focus on my schoolwork.”






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