Incoming freshman one of three finalists in national video contest

June 30, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Christian Stewart

A future University of Toledo student is a finalist competing in a nationwide video contest to win a $5,000 scholarship.

Mahogany Fleming, a recent graduate from Wyoming High School in Cincinnati, submitted a video to the LIFE Foundation; the video tells the story of her deceased father and the way his death has helped to shape her life.

When Fleming decided to attend UT, her mother, Tasha Fleming, began to look for scholarship opportunities to help pay for school.

While searching for scholarships for her daughter, Tasha looked for assistance for children without parents.

Her search brought her to the website of a nonprofit organization, Life and Health Insurance for Education, or LIFE. The organization was offering a scholarship opportunity for students whose parents had died with little or no life insurance.

Mahogany submitted a video to the LIFE Foundation describing the life of her deceased father, Wade Fleming.

Watch the video entry and click here to vote for Fleming in the competition. (Story continued below)

“I never knew my dad; I was just a baby when he died,” Mahogany said. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mahogany was only 9 months old when Wade was gunned down on the streets of Chicago.

Wade and Tasha had been married for two years when the tragedy struck. They were both Chicago natives and had moved back to their hometown after attending the University of Louisville.

Mahogany’s video described her life growing up in a home without a father and the challenges and struggles she and her mother went through emotionally and financially.

“My parents had big dreams for me,” Mahogany says in her video. “They wanted me to live my life filled with love and opportunities. They both came from single-parent homes and did not want me to experience a life of lack and struggles.”

Her work was one of three videos selected out of more than 1,000 entries. As a finalist, she was awarded $2,500.

The LIFE Foundation asks the public to watch the three finalists’ videos and vote for the most deserving candidate. The student with the most votes will receive an additional $2,500 to help to pay for his or her education.

“This scholarship would take a huge load off,” Mahogany said. “We get so stressed just worrying about having to pay for school.”

She wants to study pharmaceutical sciences and theatre at UT. Although she sees pharmacy as a more secure career option, she describes musical theatre as “one of her largest passions.”

Mahogany’s parents named her after the 1975 movie starring Diana Ross.

“They both dreamed of having a daughter that would sing and touch the hearts of people,” Mahogany says in her video.

“In sixth grade, I started performing. It started with classical music and transitioned to musical theatre.”

Mahogany went to a performing arts school for three years and has participated in many musical productions. She also is the lead singer in a new band with a name that has yet to be determined.

She said one of her most memorable experiences is being the first runner-up out of more than 700 contestants in the Cincinnati auditions for a casting call for “Glee.”

Mahogany’s video entry explains how both her mother and her deceased father have played a role in not only her musical success but also her strength and growth as a person.

“I cannot begin to put into words what we went through,” Mahogany said. “Winning this will show it was all worth it in the end.”

Mahogany’s video can be seen at Votes must be cast on that website by 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 5.

Click to access the login or register cheese