By Sean Barron
Since suffering the loss of her father, Samantha LaRose has rededicated herself to helping others, being self-sufficient and using other means that she feels would have made him proud.
On Wednesday, LaRose added one more such achievement to her list: being one of the winners of a prestigious scholarship.
“I was completely surprised,” the Jackson-Milton High School senior said. “I cried, and I was absolutely speechless.”
LaRose was one of seven area seniors who took home the awards during Wednesday’s annual Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. Memorial Scholarship Foundation luncheon at Antone’s Banquet Centre, 8578 Market St.
Denise DeBartolo York awarded scholarships totaling $63,000 to the seven students, who were among more than 300 applicants. Criteria included academic achievements, community participation and financial need.
The foundation has awarded more than $650,000 in scholarships over 18 years, and the $63,000 amount is the largest for a single year, noted Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley and the luncheon’s master of ceremonies.
LaRose, a part-time receptionist for Spitzer Chevrolet in Lordstown, said her long-term goals include earning an accounting degree from Youngstown State University and helping people maintain or obtain financial stability.
For now, LaRose said, she hopes to get a second job and possibly take a Florida vacation this summer.
The scholarship likely will go a long way toward helping Naudia Pate realize her dream: to attend San Diego State University and earn a degree in business administration.
“I had to re-read the letter, and I actually called my [guidance] counselor,” the Niles McKinley High student said with excitement. “I then called my mom at work and said, ‘Guess what I won?’”
Pate recalled having visited an uncle in San Diego, and it wasn’t long before she fell in love with the city, she explained.
As a result, she plans to move into a dormitory there this summer and start fulfilling her ambitions.
Adding to Pate’s sense of accomplishment is that SDSU accepts an annual average of only 30 percent of applicants, she noted.
“I started crying. ... Everything I worked so hard for became a reality,” Pate added, referring to having received her scholarship.
DeBartolo York praised the seven students for their achievements and perseverance, saying that they were able to endure hardships and adversity and use them to build character and become stronger.
Seven Mahoning Valley high-school seniors were awarded scholarships during Wednesday’s annual luncheon at Antone’s Banquet Centre in Boardman. The seven, their schools and some of their achievements and goals:
Benjamin Dalrymple, Wellsville High School. Dalrymple has a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to major in education at Youngstown State University or Kent State.
Samuel Kulifay, Poland Seminary High. Kulifay, who volunteers with the Poland Fire Department, intends to earn a degree in biology from YSU and attend medical school.
Samantha LaRose, Jackson-Milton High. Plans include earning an accounting degree from YSU. She works part time and carries a 3.8 GPA.
Abby Lipkovich, McDonald High. Lipkovich participates in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Mahoning Valley organization and plans to major in early-childhood education at YSU.
Raymar Rivera, Youngstown East High. Rivera carries a 4.2 GPA and has plans that include majoring in English and math at Ohio State University, then attending law school.
Kaitlin Soucy, Liberty High. Soucy plans to earn a bachelor of science degree and continue her education to become a physician’s assistant.
Naudia Pate, Niles McKinley High. Her main long-term goal is to earn a degree in business administration from San Diego State University. Pate’s high-school activities include taking part in softball, French club and many other organizations.