Perspective: YSU Sokolov Honors College Inspires Learning

By Amy Cossentino
Dean, Sokolov Honors College

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – “I would say being in the Honors College, having the mentorship of Amy [Cossentino], of Dr. Wakefield, Dr. Prieto, Dr. Oh Hu, all the faculty who changed my life, genuinely feels like a lottery ticket,” said Ashley Orr, Rhodes Scholar, 2015 honors graduate and Carnegie Mellon PhD candidate.

A Rhodes Scholar. An undergraduate patent holder. Organizers of Guin-athon, which raises funds for Akron Children’s Hospital. These are a few examples of the way students from YSU’s Sokolov Honors College seize opportunities to advance knowledge and skills that impact the communities in which they learn, live and work.

Honors students come from various backgrounds and majors with diversified interests, but what they have in common is access to personalized opportunities inside and outside of the classroom that position them to excel in their disciplines and careers.

Take Tek Chhetri and Allison Leone, two recent honors graduates whose performance during their internships helped launch their careers. Chhetri began working as a design engineer for Lordstown Motors and is now a hardware design engineer for Apple. Leone is a staff accountant at Hynes Industries.

While both students earned their first professional positions based on their internships, the breadth of their experience goes much deeper.

Chhetri’s research on self-driving cars was selected through a competitive process for presentation at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference.

Leone’s volunteer service tutoring high school students over the past two years showed her the value of teaching and inspiring others, skills that are transferable to any workplace setting.

Sometimes referred to as the “idea incubator,” Honors College supports students who show initiative and curiosity. Some student-led ideas include:

• Fundraising events, such as the talent show and golf outing.

• Creation of an undergraduate academic journal, The Emperor.

• Development of efforts to raise awareness of homelessness.

• Founding the transcribing club, which has helped to make more than 22,000 historical documents accessible to the public

• Cultivation of MALAINA, a group that seeks to unify and empower students of diverse backgrounds, which recently celebrated a cultural carnival

• Coordination of Penguin PenPal program that pairs local elementary school students with a YSU honors student who corresponds bi-weekly

• Enhanced collaboration with community partners, including United Way of Youngstown and Mahoning Valley, resulting in community engaged learning

Honors students have a long history of service in student organizations, the Student Government Association, and the YSU Board of Trustees, which further develops industry-needed skills. This is illustrated by honors alum Daniel DeMaiolo who works in the field of user experience design at PNC Financial Services.

“Serving as a student trustee requires critical thinking and decision-making skills as well as the ability to challenge the status quo, which is essential to good design. My term as a student trustee was one of the highlights during my time at YSU, and I still practice many of the skills I gained from my many mentors on the board of trustees,” DeMaiolo said.

To learn more, we welcome any future student, family or community partner to visit us at Join us as we work to inspire a love of learning through opportunity, community and family.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.