DeBartolo Memorial Foundation Awards $170,000 in Scholarships

POLAND, Ohio – Seventeen graduating seniors received a total of $170,000 in college scholarships – $10,000 apiece – Friday at the annual event that Denise DeBartolo York calls her “favorite day of the year.”

For the 26th year, the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation, founded by DeBartolo York and her husband, John York, to honor her father, rewarded college-bound seniors for their academic achievement, good character and community involvement.

“I’m overwhelmed by the goals you set and challenges you’ve overcome. You’re determined, hard-working and humble,” DeBartolo York said.

“My father always believed that students who have worked hard to achieve their goals and contribute to the community should have the opportunity to continue their education, regardless of their financial situation.

Denise and John York stand before a poster commemorating her father’s life.

Edward J. DeBartolo Sr. developed shopping malls across the country and owned sports teams including the Pittsburgh Penguins and the San Francisco 49ers. He died in 1994 at the age of 85.

The scholarship awards luncheon, held at The Lake Club, was attended by the recipients and members of their families. More than 325 scholarship applications were received this year by the foundation, which has awarded more than $1.7 million in scholarships since its inception.

Of the 17 recipients honored Friday, 14 are planning to go into STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – professions, John York noted. “Our country needs more STEM leaders. So good luck on your endeavors,” he said.

Among the students planning to pursue careers in business are Noah Minor from Lisbon and Abigail Rafferty from Girard. Minor will begin his freshman year at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh and study business finance. Rafferty will enter Ohio State University and study accounting.

Both took business classes in high school that led them to their career paths. Rafferty’s love of math made accounting her natural progression at Girard High School. Minor earned a certificate in entrepreneurship and small business at David Anderson High School in Lisbon.

Rafferty says she’ll likely stay in the Columbus area after she graduates – “We have family there.”

Minor says he might live outside the Mahoning Valley “for a little bit [after graduating from college]. But I know I want to come back here and eventually start my own business. Maybe real estate. And I’d love to own a Chick-fil-A.”

Noah Minor attended the luncheon with his mother, Heather Smith, and his grandmother, Mary Lou Smith.

As their parents and grandparents watched, John York recognized all 17 scholarship recipients by name along with the schools they plan to attend and their likely fields of study.

“Get involved [on campus] in your first year of college. But don’t get involved too much,” he advised. “In your first year of study, get your studies down.”

The 2023 Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation recipients and their schools are:

  • Caydin and Sadie Barker, Sebring;
  • Rahcelle Christy, Western Reserve;
  • Lillian Dilts, Austintown;
  • Emari Edmonds, Warren G. Harding;
  • Kylee Kocanjer, Columbiana;
  • Abbey McCabe, South Range;
  • Noah Minor, Lisbon;
  • Abigail Rafferty, Girard;
  • Madelyn Ray, Poland;
  • Jayme Richardson, Girard;
  • Mia Russomanno, Chalker;
  • Devyn Tusinac, Boardman;
  • Will Varley, Cardinal Mooney

Pictured at top: Fourteen of the 17 scholarship recipients were able to attend the awards luncheon.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.