By Sean Barron
It was easy to tell how Rayshone M. Oliver felt about a major turning point in her life by the glow on her face.
“I can’t stop smiling,” Oliver said after having received her diploma at Saturday’s spring commencement 2012 in Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center. “I feel accomplished; I feel intelligent and completely overwhelmed with success.”
Oliver, who was one of the first members of her family to take home a degree from YSU, also was one of 1,185 graduates to take part in the Saturday ceremonies, one each for graduates and under-graduates.
Oliver majored in biology with a minor in chemistry and hopes soon to begin a career as a pharmaceutical representative, she noted.
In the meantime, summer plans include looking for a job in her field and spending more time with her son, Elion, 8, and daughter, Elijen, 11, who attended the ceremonies.
Also present was Oliver’s mother, Lisa Johnson, who wasn’t shy about expressing her feelings about her daughter’s achievement. “I’m so proud of her,” Johnson said. “She has worked so hard.”
Also proud of his accomplishment was Jason Gilmore, who took home an associate’s degree in liberal arts and sciences.
Gilmore, of Youngstown, said that having seen a lot of sadness in area youngsters over the years shaped his decision to be a pediatrician, something he’s wanted to do since eighth grade.
“I want to save lives,” Gilmore said, adding that he plans to get a summer job at the Boardman YMCA working with children.
It appears that a career in design and advertising await Melissa L. List, who earned her degree in graphic design.
“I feel good but a little overwhelmed,” List said after the ceremony.
She said she will likely remain in the Mahoning Valley for now, but intends to focus her job search in Cleveland and Columbus. List added that she’s thankful to advisers, professors and fellow students who helped her along the way.
Nanette Lepore, a well-known international fashion designer and YSU alumna who earned a degree in design from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, was the main speaker.
Lepore, formerly of Youngstown, reflected on several early memories of YSU and how she developed a love for fashion at a young age.
Despite setbacks and difficulties along the way, she finally opened her business in New York’s fashionable Garment District. Lepore encouraged the graduates to face challenges and carry a sense of purpose.
“You can make your fantasy a reality. Be stubborn, be persistent, and challenge yourself. If you can’t find an opening, make one,” she said.
Kaitlyn R. Fabian, the first graduate of YSU’s new dance-management program, gave the student reflection.
Knowledge attained from YSU, passion, talent and determination sustained many students through years of rigorous studying. Now it’s time to “use that arsenal of sharpened tools,” she said.
“May God bless us as we write our stories,” Fabian concluded.
Also speaking was YSU President Cynthia E. Anderson, who asked military veterans in the audience to stand and be honored.
Sudershan Garg, chairman of YSU’s board of trustees; Ikram Khawaja, provost and vice president for academic affairs; and Shelly LaBerto, president of the university’s Alumni Society, made additional remarks.