Inspiring Minds Expo Encourages Students to Pursue Goals

WARREN, Ohio – After watching his father unable to achieve his dreams of being an NFL player, Ethan Wade decided to make a name for his family himself.

Wade, a seventh-grade student at St. Rose Catholic School in Girard, was one of about 300 students who attended Youth College Expo Day on Wednesday at Kent State University at Trumbull. The event was sponsored by Inspiring Minds and the campus.

After exploring a variety of workshops in music, police and college exploration, Wade decided he wants to pursue higher education and fulfill his and his family’s dreams.

“I want to help improve my family and make a bigger name for my family,” he said. “My dad wanted to go to the NFL. But his dreams got smashed. His name wasn’t as big, and he was not drafted. So I want to make a bigger name for myself and my family.”

The expo is part of Inspiring Minds’ six-week Summer Enrichment Program, which serves 350 Mahoning Valley students in grades three through 12. Components of the program include continuing education, college visits, career exposure, industry tours, swimming lessons, physical fitness, cooking and nutrition, gardening, community investment projects and exposure trips.

Fifth-grade student Jaye’Maree Franklin, left, and seventh-grade student Ethan Wade attended Inspiring Minds’ Youth College Expo Day.

Students participated in workshops Wednesday that focused on education, college readiness, art, personal branding, financial literacy and more.

Wade said he wants to eventually attend the University of Cincinnati or the University of Oklahoma.

“Cincinnati [is] close to home, and I like the colors,” he said. “I’ve been there before, and I really like the people there. It’s a good environment for me.”

Although Oklahoma is far from home, Wade said he would be interested in trying some place new that a lot of other people might not go to.

“I play basketball and football,” he said.

Wade said his group was made up of seventh- and eighth-grade students from the Youngstown and Warren areas.

He has been with Inspiring Minds since third grade and understands the positive impact the nonprofit has had on his education.

“Sometimes I do the after-school program, so I can still do stuff after school,” he said. “It helps with homework and it helps me prepare for the next school year.”

Becoming an entrepreneur and doing graphic design for a show or clothing brand is his career goal.

“It’s been a really good experience,” he said.

Fifth-grade student Jaye’Maree Franklin said she attended several workshops doing different activities and games. She has been a part of Inspiring Minds since 2020.

“I learned to express myself more and not be in my shell,” she said.

Franklin said she plans to take a one-year break after graduation before attending school for cosmetology.

“I like seeing videos of people doing it and saying, ‘Wow! That looks interesting,'” she said. “I just want to try it out myself.”

Renda White is the K-8 coordinator for Inspiring Minds.

Renda White, K-8 coordinator for Inspiring Minds, said although the summer program has been around for 12 years, this is the first year the college expo has taken place.

“We wanted to introduce our students to and expose them to a college experience, but also give them different backgrounds and different experiences such as entrepreneurship [and] college and career readiness,” she said. “We also just wanted them to touch a college campus.”

Although college may not be for everybody, White said it is important to give young students an introduction to the opportunities available to them.

“We try to introduce them to all things,” she said. “Not just college, but get them on a college campus and get them ready and prepare them to see something they want to do.”

Zulu boxing enthusiasts, local police officers, education department members and others helped teach the workshops.

“We plan on doing it in the future,” White said. “We plan on making it bigger and growing it as we continue to grow. Our goal next year is to possibly have all of our students here – not just K-8.”

Tiffany Tyree is the assistant director for enrollment management and student services at Kent State University at Trumbull.

Tiffany Tyree, assistant director for enrollment management and student services at Kent Trumbull, said the university has been partnering with Inspiring Minds to create the College Expo Day for a long time. Last year, she spoke with White about getting students exposure to a campus.

“We didn’t have enough time last year to put it together, so we have been working together since January [or] February in getting this day planned, and now it’s here,” she said.

Tyree said it is important to get young students thinking about carrier opportunities to ensure a smoother transition down the line.

“I think at this little age of third and fourth grade, you are starting to see the world in a different way, and you’re starting to see things that you like and you don’t like,” she said.

To learn more about Inspiring Minds, click HERE.

Pictured at top: Third-grade student Faith Smalls colored a photo of what she wants to be when she grows up.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.