YSU’s Tressel encourages students at Fitch

By Sean Barron



Gianna Ignazio enjoys being active at her high school, and the message she heard from Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel has fueled her desire to also step up her efforts toward giving back to the community.

“I’m involved in cheerleading and in a lot of clubs,” the Austintown Fitch High School junior said. “I’m trying to get into NHS [National Honor Society] and do more in the community.”

Gianna was among the estimated 800 juniors and seniors who attended Tressel’s 45-minute motivational talk Monday morning in the school auditorium.

The former Youngstown State University and Ohio State University head football coach focused largely on steps and tips he contends will increase the students’ likelihood of achieving personal and group success.

He delivered a similar message Monday at Howland and Hubbard high schools.

A core piece of success is having the willingness and desire to reach beyond oneself, Tressel told his audience.

“Success is the inner satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that you did the best you possibly could do for your group, for your team, for your school, for your community, for your state, for your nation and for civilization,” he stressed.

Tressel outlined four steps to keep in mind while on what he called “the journey of success” – figuring out where to go while making plans and setting goals, working hard, knowing how to handle life’s inevitable ups and downs and believing in oneself.

Working hard and studying in school today will prime students for success in college and in a career, he said. Tressel praised Fitch High’s teachers and staff for spending every day preparing the youngsters for future achievements.

Contrary to what some may think, handling situations that go smoothly often is harder than dealing with difficulties and challenges, partly because it’s easy to become complacent and lose one’s sense of curiosity when things consistently go well.

Innate curiosity is essential toward continuing to grow and improve, Tressel explained.

He added it’s usually difficult to believe in people who don’t believe in themselves, so it’s imperative the students have faith in themselves.

Tressel also offered tips he said many people who have gone on to achieve success and become difference makers have used.

“Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future,” Tressel said, noting that associating with friends who make good choices usually leads to a person’s making positive decisions.

Another important quality of true friends is their willingness to “be someone who will tell you the truth,” meaning they will be forthright about pointing out the good and poor choices one makes while trying to steer the person from bad ones, he added.

Tressel also advised the 11th- and 12th-graders to apply themselves beyond the classroom and academics. That includes community service, he said.

“I’ve talked to many companies, and they want well-rounded employees,” Tressel added. “Be part of a team.”

Another valuable tip is being financially prudent and literate, part of which is saving money while realizing that each step in higher education – from being an undergraduate to going to law or medical school to earning a doctorate degree – gets more expensive.

Tressel’s model of success resonated with and largely parallels that of junior Samantha Vaught, who said she may attend YSU and hopes to become a teacher.

“I thought it was great, how he put it,” Samantha said. “My definition of success matches his. I have more incentive to continue.”

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