Graduates, it’s time to find your next calling


Over the past few weekends, colleges and universities around the country have held their end-of-year commencement ceremonies, signifying the end of a student’s collegiate journey and their transition into the next phase of life.

High school students are soon to follow as the end of the school year wraps up, and we’ve had the opportunity to highlight a student or two along the way. Just recently, Poland Seminary High School student Bianca Patrone graduated from Youngstown State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration before walking across the stage at her high school graduation.

Patrone started taking courses at YSU in eighth grade and was the first College Credit Plus student to graduate from YSU with a bachelor’s degree before completing high school. She also intends to pursue a master’s degree at Hult International Business School, taking courses at their London Campus with hopes of opening an international real estate company someday.

Striving for big accomplishments also seems to run in the family. Patrone said her brother is also enrolled at YSU and is on track to earn a bachelor’s degree through YSU’s CCP program before graduating high school.

We were also recently made aware of the successes of Owen Bacon from Crestview Local Schools. He’ll be graduating from Crestview tomorrow, but Bacon will also head to Geneva College next year with an associate of applied business degree in cybersecurity after graduating from Kent State University.

To add onto that, Bacon won’t turn 18 until after he graduates. Talk about a great accomplishment for a special young man. Bacon has also been a two-sport varsity letter winner, a state-qualifying member of the speech and debate team and has had roles in drama performances, including the lead role in productions of “Little Shop of Horrors” and the upcoming production of “Les Miserables.” He’s also a National Honor Society member and received the Heads Above the Rest award this year for his score on the ACT.

Bacon plans on playing football and enrolling in the Computer Science / Cybersecurity 3+1 program at Geneva, allowing him to earn a master’s degree in four years.

There are plenty of special young high school students across the Mahoning Valley who are all taking a step into the next chapters of their lives, and you never know where that journey might take you.

When I first graduated high school, I had my sights set on a plethora of things. I thought of going to law school and attempting to follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, who was a judge in Allegany County, New York. I also considered jumping into education so I could eventually become a coach. However, after all of those considerations, I eventually landed on majoring in exercise science to eventually become a physical therapist.

We all know how that played out.

I eventually found something I love and still have a passion for to this day and, honestly, I don’t think that will ever go away. I went through the wringer to find that passion and I didn’t even realize it until the second semester of my sophomore year. When I discovered it, I instantly attacked it with everything I had. I started writing for a sports blog, I wrote for the school newspaper, took up photography and started asking as many questions as I could.

The rest of my story is history.

Several high school students will start their story knowing exactly what they want to do and some will have no clue. Both approaches are completely OK, but just remember to take advantage of every opportunity to better yourself because that’s how you truly find your passion.

I always credit a writing teacher from my sophomore year of college who challenged me to go above and beyond with a story I was writing for class, and that’s what made me realize what I wanted to do professionally.

So congratulations to all of the high school graduates throughout the Mahoning Valley, this step is just the beginning, go out and take advantage of it.

Have an interesting story? Email Greg Macafee at gmacafee@tribtoday.com or follow him on X, formerly Twitter, at @greg_macafee.


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