Doctors’ Helping Hands Began with Help from YSU Foundation

By Rachel Gobep, Story330
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Dr. Holly Burge and Dr. Jim D’Apolito practice medicine in distinct parts of America.

But they share key life moments: They both are the first in their families to graduate college and they both received key help from the Youngstown State University Foundation to graduate college.

Burge, who now resides in Raleigh, N.C., said a YSU Foundation scholarship made the difference between the decision to attend college or not attend college. Originally from Southington, Burge was high school valedictorian. The Foundation’s scholarship paid for her full tuition.

“It may seem like nothing now — the money I was given — but it was the world back then. It was everything,” she said. “To me, it was the whole world.”

She attended YSU from 1975 to 1981 and first obtained her associate degree in dental hygiene. She worked as a dental hygienist while obtaining her bachelor’s in biology.

“Since the YSU Foundation continued to support me, I just continued on my education – not knowing what direction I was going to end up,” Burge said.

She graduated from the Ohio State University College of Medicine in 1985 and then became a resident in diagnostic radiology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. She completed a fellowship in abdominal imaging at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Since 1990, Burge has worked for Wake Radiology, now known as Wake Radiology UNC REX Healthcare, as a body imaging radiologist and breast imaging specialist.

As a radiologist, Burge says she feels that she makes a difference in someone’s life every single day. Although the diagnosis is not always good news for a patient, through her analysis of pictures and knowledge of the patient’s history, she figures out what is causing their problem. 

D’Apolito says he doesn’t know of another profession where someone can have the opportunity to witness a person grow from the time they’re born to adulthood.

“It’s especially gratifying when [a person] chooses you from the start, when their baby is first born,” said D’Apolito of his pediatrician work.

D’Apolito, of Boardman, owns a practice on Belmont Avenue in Youngstown. Through his time as a pediatrician, he has grown relationships with patients and been invited to graduation parties.

“Now I get to see some of my patients’ kids, which is really something. People have told me, ‘I became a doctor because of you,’ ” D’Apolito said. 

He obtained his bachelor’s degree in biology and premed in 1984. He  received a scholarship from the YSU Foundation, which helped him afford expenses at the university.

“It covered all of my books and then some,” he said. 

As he attended the university, D’Apolito found himself growing close relationships with professors in the biology program, which created a sense of mentorship.

After graduation, he attended the Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine and Pharmacy, now known as NEOMED. To further afford college, D’Apolito commuted to YSU and to NEOUCOM. He graduated in 1988.

“It was helpful because I could go to medical school and get my work done and stay late, but then, could sort of take a break from all that stress,” he said.

D’Apolito completed his three-year residency at Tod’s Children’s Hospital, which closed in 2007. This is where he met his wife, Gina, who is a pediatric physical therapist.

He began working at his own practice in 1991 when he joined another doctor. D’Apolito says owning a practice is both exciting and stressful, but it gives him the opportunity to have flexibility in his schedule.

Burge says becoming a doctor is a lot of hard work through attending many years of college and medical school to having a residency. But it’s worth it.

“I’ve had a lot of jobs,” she said. “But this one’s the best.” 

Story330 is a media cooperative of professional journalists and media students from Youngstown State University. For information, email

Pictured: Drs. Jim D’Apolito and Holly Burge say YSU Foundation scholarships put them on the path to their careers.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.