YSU Helps Me to Pursue My Passion

By Julie Centofanti
Student Member, YSU Board of Trustees

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – I have always loved Youngstown State University, dating to when I was in grade school. I played piano in concerts in the north hall of The Butler Institute of American Art and Bliss Hall of Youngstown State University. Over the years, I played in softball tournaments at the WATTS center and softball complex and attended several English Festivals and math competitions.

I simply fell in love with the campus. After all those memorable experiences, I knew I was meant to be a Penguin. I wanted to attend college in my community, hoping to serve the university that has made me into the person I am today.

So, after graduating from South Range High School in 2020, I enrolled in YSU and was welcomed into the YSU Sokolov Honors College, where community service is a big part of the HC experience.

During the summer of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I accepted a virtual volunteering opportunity called the Transcribing Club, where the club members transcribe historical documents. I created the initiative, in part, out of fear of contracting the virus and bringing it home to an immunocompromised member of my family.

Since its founding, the club members have transcribed over 20,000 documents with the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Transcription centers. I was honored to make a presentation on the club at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Orlando, Fla., earning the John J. Hanigan Award for Leadership and Volunteerism.

Currently, I am a student in YSU’s BaccMed pre-medical program. I have always enjoyed mathematics and the sciences, especially biology and chemistry. My passion to become a physician began when my father’s health improved after he received a kidney transplant in 2005. This critical event influenced my decision to pursue a medical career so that other children would have the opportunity to spend time with and bond with their loved ones, even those with health problems.

Volunteering at free clinics and shadowing local doctors has increased my insight and passion. I am also involved in medical research with the Choose Ohio First STEM Research Program. Last year, our research group collaborated with Gregg Sturrus, chairman of the department of physics and astronomy, and Halberd Corp. to eradicate various proteins found in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

I also studied the mechanism behind IgA nephropathy, a rare non-hereditary kidney disease, with Diana Fagan, professor of immunology.

My involvement at YSU during the past two years has solidified my dreams of becoming a doctor and to help patients like my father achieve a better quality of life through medicine. 

This past spring, Gov. Mike DeWine appointed me as a student member of the YSU Board of Trustees to serve as a liaison between the student body and the board. In June, I attended my first board meeting and was impressed by the student groups who made presentations, including the doctor of physical therapy program, the Centofanti School of Nursing, Women’s Soccer Club, the men’s basketball team and the Student Government Association.

During my two-year term, I hope to share these programs with all current and prospective students.

Attending YSU is one of the best academic decisions I have made. The university provides students with a valuable education at reasonable tuition. The city of Youngstown is expanding. So are opportunities for students at YSU. I am very thankful for Youngstown State and its exceptional faculty and staff who support students in their quest for success.