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‘Education will change the hands you shake, the people you meet and the places you will go.’

Young Scholars Program commitment ceremony celebrates more than 70 students

A half marathon in downtown Columbus provided inspiration for James L. Moore III as he gave remarks at the Young Scholars Program (YSP) commitment ceremony late last month. Both events took place on the same Saturday morning.

“Tenacity, endurance and fortitude have brought you to this point. When you get close to the finish line, sometimes we tend to ease up. But we have to run this marathon at a sprinter’s pace,” said Moore, vice provost for Diversity and Inclusion and chief diversity officer at The Ohio State University. “YSP is one of the gems of this university and represents a hallmark of what a land-grant university can do.”

Founded in 1988, the Young Scholars Program seeks to improve pre-collegiate preparation, retention and degree completion among academically talented, low-income, first-generation students. It serves students from the nine largest urban school districts in Ohio.

“We have a common goal. We work with the parents, the administrators and the school around the student so the student is not trying to figure this process out alone,” said Chila Thomas, executive director of the Young Scholars Program.

The commitment ceremony provides an opportunity for students to sign letters affirming their commitment to attend Ohio State in the fall. The 2022 event was the program’s fifth, and the first in-person in two years. More than 70 students from around the state attended with members of their families and school administrators.

“This has become our signature event,” Thomas said. “And what’s so amazing is that this is an academic program. These students are here because they’ve been working for four years to get to this institution and that deserves to be celebrated.”

Students weren’t the only ones given kudos. During his remarks, Moore asked all the parents in the room to rise for a round of applause. Incoming first-year student Soha Gewaly’s parents are thrilled she’ll be staying close to home while getting her education.

“It’s important to have a well-rounded personality and a well-rounded education,” said Amal Shahein, her mother. “It is important to have a dependable career in the future.”

“I am really proud of her,” said her father, Reda Gewaly.

Dezryana Peeks’ mother and grandmother joined her at the ceremony.

“I’m excited,” said Judy Darby, her grandmother. “She’s been working hard and she’s writing her name on her future.”

“It really hasn’t hit me yet, that I’m about to graduate high school and become a Young Scholar,” Peeks said.

Gewaly echoed that sentiment.

“I’ve been working at this since the eighth grade. I’m just excited to have made it and I’m looking forward to starting college. It feels good knowing I’ve finally achieved this thing,” she said.

Graduating Ohio State students, themselves members of the Young Scholars Program, spoke to the group about their experiences. Public health major Kasie Rogers spoke candidly about her struggles during her first year at the university.

“I had a 2.5 GPA during my first two semesters and that really hurt my spirit,” she said. “I thought, ‘this isn’t the person I thought I was.’ But I reminded myself that I could do this and now I’m on track to get a 4.0 for my last semester.”

“Like so many have said, YSP is a privilege, but it is also a compass,” Rogers continued. “YSP was there for me when I lost my way. And when I found my way and found my path, it reminded me that I was going in the right direction. So use your compass.”

Moore also described the program as a guiding force. He commended the students for their hard work and assured that them this commitment to the future was a sound one.

“I can tell you,” he said, “your education will change the hands you shake, the people you meet and the places you will go.”

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