DeBartolo Scholarships Set Students on Career Paths

By Marah Morrison

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Throughout her senior year of high school, Leetonia High School student Kylie Tullis has had heart set on attending Malone University to study nursing. But with that has come worries over whether she’ll be able to afford it.

As one of the 15 recipients of the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial Scholarship, Tullis will have one less thing to worry about come her freshman year of college.

“I spent months thinking about how I’m going to pay for college because I really love Malone,” she said. “It took so much weight off just knowing that other people cared and can give out scholarships and make that easier for other people.”

The $10,000 scholarship will help Tullis pursue a passion that’s she’s long held: medicine. A member of the Teen Outreach program for Akron Children’s Hospital, Tullis said she’s always enjoyed helping others and taken part in community service projects most of her life.

“My father believed that all students who have demonstrated the desire to continue their education, regardless of their financial situation, should be afforded the opportunity to receive a college education,” said Denise DeBartolo York, the daughter of mall developer Edward J. DeBartolo Sr., who died in 1994.

The fund held its annual luncheon Tuesday, presenting $150,000 in scholarships to the 15 winners out of more than 350 applicants.

Rachel Burkell of Austintown, who will study German, Norwegian and education at St. Olaf College, said she was speechless when she found out she would received the scholarship. With the award, she said she’ll be able to complete her freshman year without taking on any debt.

“It’s allowing me to be able to finally chase my dreams and get away from everything that could have put me down,” she said.

A four-year student of the German language, Burkell was president of Austintown Fitch High School’s German club for two years and worked as a tutor.

“I want to move to Germany and teach,” she said. “I want to teach German the way we teach English here. It’s a dream.”

Jaycee Ward of Niles, who will study neuroscience at Hiram College, said getting this scholarship helped take off the financial stress of going to a small, private school. With plans to specialize in psychology and become a forensic neuropsychologist, she’s also volunteered at the Fairhaven School for children with disabilities in Niles.

“I always did that on my own time not knowing what the scholarship included,” she said. “[I kept my grades up] and participated in athletics [as well].”

John Zimmerman IV of Austintown, who will study nursing at Youngstown State University, said when he received the scholarship, it was during a difficult time in his life. The award, he said, was a sign that things are still looking up.

“Financially, this will help me thrive in the future,” he said. “[I] won’t be overwhelmed with student loans.”

John York, co-chairman of the San Francisco 49ers with his wife, said people need to celebrate great days in their lives. The scholarships, he continued, are a way to carry on the DeBartolo legacy well beyond the family tree.

“We need to remember birthdays. We need to remember anniversaries. We need to remember graduations,” he said. “This is just part of what we do as a family.” 

Other recipients of the scholarship are Delaney Baber, Struthers; Olivia Batton, Ursuline; Chloe Clear, Jackson Milton; Zachary Coman, Liberty; Laura Denman, Maplewood; Megan Drake, United; Anna Finocchi, South Range; Gannon Fridley, John F. Kennedy; Shae Keeley, Southington; Abbey Lipinksy, Boardman; and Harmony Offenburg, Columbiana.

“Every step you take every day [will] move you forward to the goals that you set,” DeBartolo York told the honorees. “Once you’ve reached those goals, turn around and look around you and recognize those who are coming up behind you.”

Pictured at top: High school seniors Rachel Burkell and Abbey Lipinsky, center, received DeBartolo Memorial Scholarships from John York and Denise DeBartolo York Tuesday.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.