Dedication, determination and drive

46 receive certificates through Choffin program

YOUNGSTOWN — Despite having to attend school under less-than-optimal circumstances, Chyanne Palmer latched on to three D’s that kept her on the path leading to her donning a cap and gown: dedication, determination and drive.

“I was living at someone’s house and in the middle of the school year, I was told I had to leave,” Palmer, 20, of Youngstown, said. “I had nowhere to go. I went to my teachers and they told me about the Rescue Mission, and (the mission) took me in.”

Palmer is still staying at the facility, but she has availed herself to its library to study for tests, take advantage of necessary resources and stay on top of her grades, she said.

“I was committed and I stuck to it,” Palmer added.

All of that — with more than a smattering of persistence — paid dividends for Palmer, because she was among the 46 Choffin Career and Technical Center students who received certificates during the center’s adult education commencement Friday at East High School.

Another source of pride for Palmer is having been one of the first family members to graduate from a post-secondary school, she said.

Palmer’s career goal is to be a dental assistant. To that end, she is waiting to hear from the Youngstown Community Health Center regarding a job interview, said Palmer, who called herself a “people person” and intends to ensure her patients will feel comfortable under her care.

Of the 46 grads, 22 graduated in Choffin’s surgical technology program, 18 in its practical nursing program and six in dental assisting — all three of which will lead to in-demand jobs, Sherry Cross, the center’s adult education director, said.

Of the 46 students, 98% of them have been offered a position or have already accepted one, Cross said. She added that the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for, and importance of, filling such jobs in the medical field.

Also intending to help bridge that gap is Antwan Chilton of Youngstown, who recently moved to the Mahoning Valley from the Dallas area.

“The program was a challenge. I missed some school but stayed focused with the program,” said Chilton, who worked for about 17 years as an electrician for General Motors Corp. in Texas.

The grad said that, despite the good pay and benefits, he needed a change from the long and restrictive hours at GM — something he said “controlled my life.” He also desired to spend more time with his children, Chilton said, adding that he may relocate to the Dallas area.

A special passage from Philippians 4:13, which states that Jesus Christ gives people the power to achieve anything, served as an added spark of inspiration for Emily Frederick of Warren to see her education plans through.

“I’m happy I made it; I wouldn’t have made it without God’s help,” said Frederick, who wore a cap that read, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

Among the things she hopes to achieve after having graduated from Choffin’s practical nursing program is to work in a nursing home or hospital, said Frederick, who also attends Warren Revival Center Church.

The commencement speaker was Dr. Tonia Farmer, a board certified otolaryngology and head and neck surgeon who co-owns the Lippy Surgery Center and Lippy Hearing Aid Center in Warren.

Farmer, who also was a medical advisor for Rhinosystems Inc., the maker of Navage Nasal Irrigation Systems, stressed the importance of displaying kindness, compassion and empathy to all patients.

Farmer’s foray into the medical field was set when she lost a sister, but saw firsthand how caring and empathetic the doctors and oncologists were to her and her family. That created an early desire to not only enter the field, but to treat future patients in a like manner, she told the grads and the standing-room-only crowd that filled the auditorium.

Farmer dispensed five strategies to the grads she said will foster greater success: the importance of sharing their dreams with others, a willingness to lean into difficult challenges, the value of shifting their mindsets to positive mode, the importance of showing up to face challenges while realizing they are inevitable and displaying empathy, kindness and compassion.

“Never underestimate the power of your empathy,” she advised, adding, “I believe in every one of you.”

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