DeBartolo Scholarships Pave Way to College for 15 Students

POLAND, Ohio – Nikole Husnick, a senior at Brookfield High School, says one of her biggest fears after graduation was accumulating mountains of debt while attending college in pursuit of a degree in exercise science.

An accomplished athlete in volleyball, track and bowling, Husnick is on a path to have her dream realized as one of 15 recipients of this year’s Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship.

“It’s amazing,” she said.  “I never thought I would win anything like this.”

The $10,000 scholarship will help fund her freshman year at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pa.  “It really means my college education.”

Her father owns a small automotive business and finances were often tight at home with four children, says Husnick’s mother, Cheri. “We’re basically a one-income family and she’s pretty much paying her own way through college,” she said.  “This scholarship is a tremendous help to her.”

Husnick said her interest in exercise science stems from a history of health problems in her family, so she wanted to pursue a degree in a field that she felt passionate about. 

Ultimately, she said studying this field could lead to a career in physical therapy or as an athletics trainer.  “I just hope that I love what I do,” she said.

Husnick and 14 other seniors from the region shared $150,000 in scholarships, which were announced at the organization’s annual luncheon Friday at The Lake Club.

More than 350 students applied for the 15 available scholarships this year. Applications included academic transcripts, student essays, recommendations from guidance counselors and principals. Scholarship award winners are determined by academic achievement, community involvement and financial need.

“One of my father’s favorite sayings was, ‘An education levels the playing field,’” said Denise DeBartolo York, the daughter of mall developer Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., who died in 1994. “To give young adults the chance at an education is the name of the game.”

DeBartolo York, co-chair of the San Francisco 49ers, thanked the students for their hard work and recognized the adversities they’ve overcome in life to make days like this possible. They also acknowledged the support of these students’ parents, guardians, school officials and others that have helped guide these young people to success.

“I see 15 bright, vibrant students,” Debartolo York said.  “You’ve come this far and done this well. Your future is unlimited.”

DeBartolo York’s husband, Dr. John York, co-chair of the 49ers, applauded the tenacity and pluck demonstrated by all of the award winners, despite a difficult year marred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Besides COVID, you’ve each met challenges and obstacles in your life,” he said. “Unfortunately, you will meet other challenges and obstacles along the way. You’ll be prepared once those are there and you’ll know how to handle it.”

George Getsy Jr., a senior at South Range High School, said it’s heartening to know that there are committed businesspeople and philanthropists in the community willing to help. 

“It’s hard to describe,” Getsy said. “It’s really meaningful because I care about my education and my mother has really reinforced that in my life.”

Growing up in a single-parent household, Getsy said his mother consistently drilled in him the importance of an education.  “It made me push myself harder and really try in high school.”

His mother, Stephanie Mackall, said she’s “overjoyed” about her son receiving the scholarship and not having to worry about the financial implications of attending college. “I’m so proud of him,” she said.

Getsy will pursue a degree in political science at The Ohio State University with an eye on a law career and eventually politics. “If you ever see my name on a ballot, put a little check by it,” he said with a laugh. 

Other DeBartolo Scholarship awardees and the high schools they attended are:

  • Megan Black, South Range
  • Angelica Bohurjack, Austintown Fitch
  • Bailey Campbell, West Branch
  • Megan Chludzinski, Lisbon
  • Brooklyn Funari, Columbiana
  • Alannah Hetzel, Boardman
  • Ruth Kaiser, Bloomfield
  • Makenzie McBride, Liberty
  • Hannah Minor, United Local
  • Krista Perry, Crestview
  • Lily Secrest, Salem
  • James Shaffer, Campbell Memorial
  • Tatiana Tolson, Cardinal Mooney

The Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships over the past 24 years.

“My father believed that all students who have demonstrated intensity and desire to achieve their personal goals, regardless of their financial situation, should be afforded the opportunity to receive a college education,” DeBartolo York said. “The goals of the foundation are to continue to reward those students who have proven themselves as role models and leaders in their community,” she said.

Pictured: The winners of this year’s DeBartolo Memorial Scholarships are (sitting, from left) Megan Black, Angelica Bohurjack, Bailey Campbell, Megan Chludzinski, Brooklyn Funari, George Getsy Jr. (standing, from left) Alannah Hetzel, Nikole Husnick, Ruth Kaiser, Hannah Minor, Krista Perry, Lily Secrest, James Shaffer and Tatiana Tolson.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.