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Scholarships help to diversify YSU student population

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown State University senior Randall Gillum, 29, is working to earn his Bachelor of Science in nursing degree by the end of the 2020-21 school year.

Receiving $1,000 from the YSU Foundation’s 2020 Minority General Scholarship Program will help the Air Force Reserve senior airman to concentrate on academics, instead of going to school full-time and working more that 40 hours per week at two jobs — just to earn enough to pay for classes and live.

Gillum operates his own business, Exzalt Fitness, and works at the YSU Office of Veterans Affairs, on the university campus.

The Youngstown native and graduate of Liberty High School said at one point, completing a nursing degree was not something he imagined himself doing.

The nursing degree will be the second he will obtain from YSU. He earned a degree in exercise science in 2014, after playing football for YSU for three-and-a-half years.

“I received a partial athletic scholarship for the remaining three years,” he said. “I was very young, and I chose my major because of my interest in athletics and it was something I figured I could do.”

Gillum said the minority scholarship today means more to him than the partial scholarships he received for his athletic prowess.

“By awarding this to me, people are recognizing potential that for a long time I didn’t see in myself,” he said.

The YSU Foundation has 55 scholarships that are geared specifically toward minority students, according to Stacy Quinones, spokeswoman for the YSU Foundation. These scholarships include new scholarships, those not yet awarded and those not yet endowed.

“Approximately $1.5 million worth of scholarships have been matched,” she said. “Every scholarship is unique because they each have their own set of criteria, such as majors, GPA, etc.”

The foundation has scholarships from specific family donors, such as the Jim and Ellen Tressel Minority Scholarship and the Frankie “Mr. Lucky” Halfacre Memorial Scholarship; as well as minority scholarship funds designed for specific industries, such as the Physical Therapy Minority Scholarship or the Minority Scholarship for Engineering.

Andrew Hom, 20, of Westlake, received a $1,000 scholarship in 2019. Hom, a senior, is a biology major who intends to go to medical school.

“Receiving this scholarship was important because it helped me to stay within my budget,” Hom said. “It was not make or break because I would have been able to attend school even without it, but it has helped.”

Hom decided to attend YSU because its biology department has a good reputation in preparing students for medical school. Also, his grandfather, William Hom, attended YSU.

“Because they gave me this scholarship, I feel my role is to broaden the idea of Asian Americans and other minorities on campus,” Hom said. “It (the scholarships) helps YSU by increasing representation of different racial and ethnic groups at the university.”

“Getting this scholarship reaffirmed in my mind that I made the right choice in deciding to attend YSU,” Hom said.”

Last month, the Youngstown Foundation announced the Joseph Pavlov Jr. Minority Scholarship, established by the Pavlov family — Joseph, John, Catherine, George, Helen and Jennifer Staaf — in memory of their father, Joseph Pavlov. The scholarship is exclusively for African-American undergraduate and graduate students. The family donated $110,000 for the scholarship.

The Youngstown Foundation, however, matched the amount dollar to dollar, increasing it to $220,000. The foundation, in 1996, began matching minority scholarships to assist the university in attracting a more diverse student population. Since then, more than $1.4 million has been matched in contributions designated to minority scholarships.

The Youngstown State University Foundation is at 655 Wick Ave. and can be reached at 330-941-3128.

Paul McFadden, foundation president, said about 4 percent annually of endowed scholarships are awarded to students. The remaining funds are allowed to grow, so they will be available to future students.

And other scholarship opportunities are available at the university. McFadden said those interested in getting more information about available scholarships should go to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships on campus to seek every funding option available to them.

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