By Denise Dick
When East High School students Clemont Fowler, Kendra Thompson, Nisyah Traish, Diamond Cuevas and Lanyziah Showers walk across the Stambaugh Auditorium stage this morning, they’ll have more in common than just their alma mater.
The five are among the 160 Youngstown City School 2016 graduates to earn $443,000 as first recipients of the Y-STAR Scholarships.
The Youngstown Foundation is awarding these last-dollar scholarships of up to $3,000 – $1,000 each for a student’s freshman, sophomore and junior year in the city schools – to city school graduates who attend either Youngstown State University or Eastern Gateway Community College.
Last-dollar scholarships fill the gap between financial aid and the other costs of college, including fees, parking and books. Those are things that sometimes prevent someone from being able to go to college.
Jan Strasfeld, executive director of the Youngstown Foundation, said the numbers exceeded her expectations.
“We really looked at the data from several years before and we estimated that there would be somewhere around 200 who would qualify,” she said. “We would have expected maybe half of [those students] to apply.”
There are 295 graduates from the city district’s three high schools, East, Chaney and Youngstown Early College, which means more than half of the graduates received the scholarships.
At the time of the Y-STAR Scholarships launch in August 2012, the Youngstown Foundation committed $3 million for Y-STAR. At that time, members of the Class of 2016 were entering their freshmen year. The fund has grown to nearly $4 million.
“Kids want to feel appreciated and know people care about them,” Strasfeld said.
The amounts are forwarded to the respective institutions financial aid department for disbursement. The foundation won’t know until fall how many of the scholarship recipients enrolled in the two schools.
Fowler, Thompson and Cuevas each plan to attend EGCC to earn their licensed practical nurse certifications. After Fowler finishes at EGCC, he wants to finish his bachelor’s degree in Las Vegas.
Traish plans to study physical therapy at YSU and Showers will attend EGCC to become a dental hygienist.
All five of the students are grateful for the scholarships.
“It will help with gas money,” Traish said.
Students may enroll in the Y-STAR program as high school freshmen, sophomores or juniors. To accumulate funds, students must be enrolled in the Y-STAR program on an annual basis and must complete the Y-STAR Agreement annually with signatures of student and parent or legal guardian. They have to fulfill graduation requirements within four years and maintain a 2.0 grade point average.
Fowler said the requirements could be intimidating to some students, but he didn’t have difficulty.
“I do pretty well in my classes,” he said.
At East, 73 students earned $188,000 in scholarships. At YEC, the foundation awarded $146,000 in scholarships to 49 students and at Chaney, 38 students will share $109,000 in Y-STAR scholarships.
Strasfeld hopes the program continues to grow and help more students attend college.
“I would hope it encourages students and the parents to consider this wonderful opportunity,” she said.