Teaching major, vet to give YSU commencement addresses Saturday


Two exceptional students will give the student addresses at Youngstown State University’s Saturday commencement ceremonies.

Rachel Emerson, daughter of Melanie and the late Dr. Scott Emerson of Leetonia will give the 9:30 a.m. ceremony address. She will be graduating with a degree in middle childhood education with a concentration in math and science and a minor in art.

Ryan Portela of Little Ferry, N.J., will give the 2:30 p.m. ceremony address. He is a veteran and a double major in political science and geography.

Emerson said her speech isn’t actually about her or her life.

“Partly because, who wants to hear someone talk about themselves and their accomplishments for five minutes?” she asked. “Also because any ‘accomplishment’ I may have so far, isn’t really mine, but [it’s] the people who [have] loved me and pushed me through the best and worst times of my life. And if I was going to tell everyone about all of those people, we would be there all day.”

Portela’s take on graduating is a little different. To start, he said he didn’t think he could afford to go to college and wasn’t necessarily the best student.

“So I decided to join the Army,” Portela explained.

And in that, Portela said his time in the military helped him understand why education is important.

“It really gave me the direction I needed,” he said. “I think overall, the Army helped give me the confidence and maturity needed to excel in school. On top of that, the Post 9/11 GI Bill paid for my college education, and allotted me a monthly stipend to pay for my expenses.”

Read more about them in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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