Forward thinking

Youngstown Early College’s third class receives diplomas



Laeeqa Wilson, co-valedictorian, offered sound advice for the third graduating class of Youngstown Early College:


Number of graduates: 50

Class motto: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X.

Class colors: Royal blue and silver.

Class song: “For All We Know” by Donny Hathaway and performed a cappella by class member Gabrielle Stanford.

Number earning associate degrees from YSU: 5.

Number who will be attending YSU as full-time students: 34.

“The only failure in life is the failure to try.

“Now is the time to spread your wings. Your life is now your destiny, your life is now yours to create, so make good choices,” she told her classmates.

Wilson and co-valedictorian Kenneth Holt are part of the Class of 2010, which received its diplomas Tuesday at the DeYor Performing Arts Center.

Holt had some advice of his own.

Now is the time to make mature decisions about our future, he said, adding that he expects the members of this class to make a positive impact on the city, the nation and the world.

The graduates may move away as they pursue careers, but they should never forget their Youngstown roots, Holt urged.

LaShawnda Gilbert and Kayla Smith are the class co-salutatorians.

Youngstown Early College is a cooperative educational effort launched in 2004 by the Youngstown city schools and Youngstown State University, giving promising high school students an opportunity to earn college credit at YSU while completing their high school education in YSU’s Fedor Hall.

Dr. David C. Sweet, YSU president, was the keynote speaker for graduation and pointed out that 31 members of the class have earned at least 30 college credits, the equivalent of one year of college work. Fourteen of the class have earned at least 45 credits, and five have earned associate degrees, which were presented to them at YSU’s commencement Saturday.

The five are Matthew Benton, Kenneth Holt, Javonne Lafontaine, Tawni McClendon and Heather Powell.

The university is providing scholarship assistance to the 34 members of the class who will enroll at YSU as full-time students, Sweet said.

The performance of this class shows the success of “a unique partnership that we are very proud of,” he said.

“You are making what seemed impossible, possible,” he told the class, advising them to pursue their dreams to make what seems impossible, possible.

“We are all people who make things happen,” said Keiona Delaine, class president, who had the last word.

“Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. We’ve made it, but we’ve just begun our journey,” she said.

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