Education

7 Students Receive DeBartolo Scholarships

BOARDMAN, Ohio — When Raymar Rivera relocated to the United States from Puerto Rico, he moved in with his grandmother in Youngstown who is disabled, cannot drive, and does not speak English.

The transition was difficult, he recalls, but his grandmother took care of him and he vowed that one day he would return the favor.

As one of the recipients of this year’s Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation awards, Rivera has the opportunity to do just that.

“I plan to go to Ohio State University and major in mathematics, minor in political science and then attend law school,” he said Wednesday. “She took care of me when I was little. Now it’s my turn to take care of her.”

As a high school student, Rivera worked between 30 and 40 hours a week to help support his grandmother, maintained a 4.2 grade point average while attending East High School, was active in peer mentoring, the math team, student council, drama club and other organizations.

He plans to pursue immigration law in law school. “I’m from Puerto Rico, and I’ve had the privilege of coming to the U.S.,” Rivera said. “I would like to help other Hispanic people, or people from other countries, to have that privilege as well.”

Rivera and six other graduating seniors with exceptional academic records and equally impressive stories of overcoming adversity were awarded a total of $63,000 in scholarships during the 18th annual Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation luncheon.

Over those 18 years, the foundation has awarded more than $650,000 in scholarships to students in need.

“Today we celebrate seven remarkable students,” said Denise DeBartolo York shortly before the awards were presented. “Many of them have encountered unbelievable hardships, neglect, abandonment – difficulties hard for most of us to imagine.”

Samuel Kulifay, a senior at Poland High School, said winning the scholarship “means the world” to him. “I couldn’t sleep the entire night,” he said, after learning he is a recipient.

Kulifay plans to attend medical school after obtaining his undergraduate degree from Youngstown State University. “I’m going to try many different paths to try to get into medical school — that’s the hardest part — and keep trying until I get it done,” he said.

The senior at Poland currently attends classes at YSU, has a 3.75 GPA, works at a pizza shop and is a volunteer firefighter. He also serves on student council, is a member of the National Honor Society, the science club and writes for the school newspaper, The Seminarian.

Other students who received scholarships are:

  • Benjamin Dalrymple from Wellsville High School, who maintains a 4.0 GPA and plans to pursue a degree in education at YSU or Kent State University.
  • Samantha LaRose, Jackson Milton High School, has earned a 3.8 GPA and endured the tragic loss of her father. She plans to attend YSU with the goal of earning a degree in accounting.
  • Abby Lipkovich, McDonald High School, plans to attend YSU and earn a degree in early childhood education. She has maintained a 3.7 GPA.
  • Kaitlin Soucy, Liberty High School, plans to earn a baccalaureate with the goal of becoming a physician’s assistant.
  • Naudia Pate, of Niles McKinley High School, is the recipient of the Donald P. Pipino Memorial Award and has plans to attend San Diego State University after graduation.

Bob Hannon, president of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, and emcee of the event, paid homage to the late Edward J. DeBartolo and his longtime friend, Donald Pipino, both of who began the scholarship. “Those two men set the foundation for many of the great things that happen in this community now,” he said.

Nearly 400 applications were considered this year, Hannon said. These applications included grade transcripts, student essays, financial information, and recommendations from guidance counselors and principals. The recipients are determined based on the students’ academic achievement, community involvement and financial need.

“Incredibly, there’s always a common theme running through your personal essays,” DeBartolo York told the recipients. “And that is to work hard to continue your education so that you can in turn come back and do for others what we have done for you. That’s what touches me the most.”

Pictured: Raymar Rivera.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.