P.R.O.M.I.S.E. Stories of Diversity
Send your stories to Ray Detwiler at radetwiler AT student.ysu DOT edu
My mother used to be a heavy equipment operator. How she got into that career is kind of interesting. My mother was never permitted to go to college. She was the oldest among her two other siblings, and her parents - my grandparents, did not have the money to send her to college. When she was 19, she gave birth to my brother and was married to my father who was a heavy equipment operator. About seven years later, when she was pregnant with me, she took the exam to become a heavy equipment operator. She told me that she didn’t think she would pass the exam, but she did. She then went on to her apprentice school. There she was trained to operate road pavers, cranes, bulldozers, and other excavating equipment. She told me that while she was taking the exam, she was not denied anything, but it was very apparent that she wasn’t welcome there. During that time she was pregnant with me, she told me she wore baggy clothes to train in so she wouldn’t show. To make a long story short, my mother operated heavy equipment during a time where woman were not respected, and most certainly not welcomed into a career such as the one she took on. She often told me that she was set up on more than one time that resulted in her getting fired, and at the same time she made life-long friends that helped her out along the way. To this day, if we are out together, and a man recognizes her from somewhere, they remembered her because she was on top of a huge piece of equipment, working right along with men and doing just as well of a job as they were, when the odds of working in that career at that time, were most certainly not in her favor.
My best friend is a non-traditional student at YSU. She is a mother of two young children and is from China. She has been in the U.S. for seven years. When I became a tutor at the Center for Student Progress I tried to convince her to apply to become a tutor and she was resistant because she felt she could not communicate with the students very well. After some convincing, she decided to give it a try and she applied for the job. She got the job and has been tutoring for a few semesters and she loves it. She says that it helped her overcome her language barrier.
This is a story about an article titled AT&T Supports Playhouse in the Poland Town Crier. It says that AT&T is going to match a $1000 contribution to the Youngstown Playhouse. This will help get the Playhouse ready for its full schedule of shows.
Representative Bob Hagan was quoted in the article saying that the Playhouse is a very important part of the community for over eighty years. The Playhouse is an important entity for many area art groups. The Playhouse affects many members of the community.
At Youngstown State University, approximately 900 students were enrolled in Fine & Performing Arts. Included in that statistic is my neighbor, Ashley. She told me, “I was in a bunch of productions at the Playhouse when I was younger. Either I was actually casted in the production, or I was there helping as a stage-hand.” She is currently attending YSU working towards completing her Bachelor’s in Painting. “When I was a stage hand, I had the chance to help and create a set or scenery for productions. I don’t want to give all the credit to the Playhouse for sparking my interest in painting, but I definitely will say it was an influence.”
Ashley gives credit to the Playhouse for helping to inspire her. Maybe she would never have thought about becoming a Fine Art major if it weren’t for the Youngstown Playhouse. Maybe the Playhouse will inspire others to take the path that Ashley has. This path goes through the Youngstown Playhouse and continues on to Youngstown State University.
This story is about Michelle who works full time at a local truck stop. She is a single mother of two and taking classes at National College on Belmont Ave in Liberty Township, Ohio. She has a 15 credit hour load in management and accounting while working 40 hours a week at the truck stop. She hopes to graduate and qualify for a management position with the company she works for or somewhere else.
When I think about my journey as to how I got where I am today, I have to start with my high school experience. There was not a lot of motivation and I ended up graduating with a 2.1 GPA. My mom was pushing me to go to college. Luckily, I listened to my mom and came to YSU. I chose to purse middle school education for two reasons: 1.) I enjoyed communicating with people. 2.) I did not always agree with the approach previous teachers of mine took and I wanted to set a better example for students than they did.
I ended up with A’s and B’s my first year. I went to class, I asked questions, I prepared for exams, and I utilized campus services such as the writing center and library. I continued this trend and ended up graduating with a 3.4 GPA.
It is extremely important for students to develop socially as well as academically. There are so many way to get involved at YSU. I joined a fraternity (Alpha Phi Delta) and I got a campus job (Parking Services).
All of my involvement at YSU caused me to have a change of heart with what I wanted to do with my life. As much as I loved teaching, I felt like I connected better with college students. Upon graduation, I applied and was admitted in the Student Affairs Leadership and Practice Program at YSU. I ended up getting hired at Carnegie Mellon and am currently an Academic Advisor in the Humanities and Social Sciences department.
Living in the dorms, I get to see a different side of YSU than most of the other students. In 2007 out of the 12,275 students attending YSU only 796 lived in campus housing. To the people who live here during the school year, YSU is home. It’s a place that you spend 8 months out of the year living with people you don’t really know and who end up turning into a family and not just the person who lives in the room next to you. During each semester, the RA’s in the building set up programs for people to interact with someone they might not have met before. They also have programs that are set up for you to learn about diversity, and other items that each college student would face.
Angela De Christofaro
“The only source of knowledge is experience.” – Albert Einstein
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obamam
My name is Alan Demo and I am a junior at YSU. MY diversity story is one that happened in my own family. My aunt who is originally from this area moved to Huston Texas after her college graduation. At first she said she was a little in shock of all the diversity in an area that she was not use to it after being from a small town. Once she got settled she then began to meet people at work and go out. But among all these people she would meet there was one person that stuck in her mind. It was an Iranian man from Tehran. His name is Joe Khosravi. My family was not a big fan at first but after getting to know him as a man rather than an Iranian man they began to like him. Now he is my uncle and today no one in my family even sees his differences we all just see him as Uncle Joe.
Fun Fact: 8% of the Midwest’s population is from Iranian Decent
I am 30 years old and I am also a wife, a mother of two toddlers, unemployed accounting clerk from a closed steel mill, a Christian, and a YSU student. I started full-time work right out of high school but I wanted more for myself than to live my life with just a high school diploma. For ten years I have been a part time student at this campus. I have faced many setbacks but have overcome them all. I am scheduled to graduate with a Bachelors degree next fall!
I currently work at a local private country club right here in Youngstown Ohio. The club is not only one of the oldest country clubs in our area, but also a more prestigious organization compared to its counterparts. Since its inception in 1803 the club has consisted mostly of older males who were typically extremely wealthy individuals from the Youngstown area. This originally helped build the prestige of the club and gave it its reputation. Since the membership fees to join the club have traditionally been more expensive than other country clubs and their current members were all very similar in many ways, the club was not very diversified and their membership started to suffer. That was until the board realized the error of their ways and discovered that many private clubs across the country have been evolving over the years. The board immediately lowered membership costs and implemented an entirely different marketing strategy which attracted new members of all ages, races, and genders. Now the club which I work for is extremely diversified and on any given day you will find members and their friends and families, enjoying a casual round of golf. Through diversification, not only has this private country club been able to turn their membership around in a declining economy, they have been able to link themselves to a new target market which has boosted their revenues in every sector of their organization, anywhere from the golf course, pro shop, banquet center, or their restaurant.
Being born out of the states has helped me develop and mature differently from people who were born within the boundaries of the country. Even though I spoke fluent English when I moved here, it was still much different than what is otherwise conversed. Fitting into school programs, making friends and basically being myself was quite a challenge growing up. I found myself trying to be more like my peers which in due course made me more “Americanized”. Now I cherish my traditions and definitely value my culture. Although schools may already have programs in effect, I think it is very important to teach children from a young age, especially now, that cultural diversity is a key part to our modern day society. Accepting and embracing one’s differences begins at a young age, carries out in the future jobs we may hold ultimately playing into our personal lives in more direct ways. Especially when conducting business.
“We are of course a nation of differences. Those differences don’t make us weak. They’re the source of our strength.” – Jimmy Carter
“[People] may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.” – Felix Adler
In January of 2008 I attended the London/Dublin study tour. On this trip I learned a tremendous amount of practical knowledge and spoke with some teachers who I frequently go to for answers today. I now realized how much YSU, The Staff and other students have broadened my horizons. I used to think that I would get a job in a small business somewhere in this area but now that I near the end of my Bachelor's degree program I see that I have many choices for a plethora of jobs throughout the U.S. and overseas. I must credit much of this I awakening to, Pat Gaughan and Larry Zielke
“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Maya Angelou
“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.” – Malcolm Forbes
The West Boulevard Elementary School in Boardman, Ohio has started a new program that is pairing up Boardman High School students with students from the elementary school. Each High school student was given a little Brother or Sister in which they will spend time talking and getting to know each other thru various activities. Mrs. Scrocco, the School Counselor at West Blvd. said they originally started the program to target children who might need a mentor or special friend. “We had such an overwhelming response from the high school students though! There were over 80 students to volunteer for the program. We made sure that they were all properly screened, and are very good students.” The teens will meet with their respective little brother /little sister once a month and partake in games and crafts. The final project will be for each team to make a “quilt square” and then they will make one big quilt and donate to Akron Children’s Hospital at the end of the year.
New Covenant Baptist Church in Lordstown is a distribution site for Angel Food Ministries. Angel Food
Ministries is a program that helps distribute food bundles at a lower cost than what you would pay in stores.
I am a 22 year old white male who grew up in a lower middle class family in the Youngstown Ohio area. Diversity is about making the best of your differences. One good example of how I used diversity to flourish is at my current job at a hotel where I entered as a front desk operator. Through my work ethic, managers saw I was a hard worker and went above and beyond the call of the job. Through my efficiency I was able to do the amount of work given to me in a shorter time period than other employees. Finally, through my problem solving ability I was able to see issues that were going to happen and solve them before they happened, also keeping cool when there was an issue at hand that needed to be resolved. Because of this I have been promoted to the front desk manager in a matter of 2 weeks! This is the fastest time anyone has ever been promoted to that position!
I go to a small town church with less than 200 members. I have been attending church there my whole life and it has always been the same thing. The members of the church all come from the same walk of life. Everyone there is an upper-middle class, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. One day a few years ago a black man attended the Sunday events. We start the day with cookies and coffee in the parlor of the church, where nobody said much more than hello to this new church attendee. The man sat alone during the mass. Again, the next week, the man showed up and nobody said much to him. The members sat down in their pews and were alarmed to see the pastor was not present. It was to the church member’s surprise when the black man stood up and took the pulpit. There was room for improvement in our church, and he helped the other members to realize this too. Now the church has grown to almost 350 members and there are regularly attending minority families.
The story I felt serves a testament to our project is the story of Senior Multi-Cultural Coordinator Michael Beverley. Mr. Beverley is Counselor at the Center for Student progress here at Youngstown State University. His focus is on students of diverse backgrounds, but he specializes in the assistance of African American students. Dropout rates are higher amongst African-American students. Mr. Beverley serves as mentor to students having trouble appreciating the college experience; instilling confidence and hard work. His primary objective is making students understand that they deserve to be in the university and they can accomplish anything as long as they are focus and dedicated to their academics. Mr. Beverley also is the founder and senior counselor of the Youngstown State Summer Bridge Program. This is a one week program designed to help multi-cultural students get adjusted to campus life and also assists them in developing adequate study habits. This is a completely free program and student’s eligibility is based upon their family income. Mr. Beverley started this program in 2004 and each year participation increases by 20% or higher. Mr. Beverley’s influence on campus is easily recognized amongst multi-cultural students.
“Man in the Mirror,” is a popular song performed by Michael Jackson. The chorus goes, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, and if no message could have been any clearer, if you want to make the world a better place take a look at yourself and then make a change”. This is the stance that a group of high school students from Youngstown City Schools decided to take. It all started with a group project stemming from participating in the “Sojourn to the Past” program. The program takes high school students from around the country on a journey through Southern locales where the civil-rights movement got its start in the 1950s. Two small groups of students have made that journey under the direction of Penny Wells, a retired teacher.
After attending an educational conference for teachers back in 2002, Ms.Wells states, “I knew “Sojourn to the Past” was a program I wanted to be a part of...it was my calling” Gregory knew since the 8th grade that he wanted to participate in the program. The director of “Sojourn to the Past” came to speak at his school. Gregory felt his discussion of the history of the Civil-rights movement was presented in a way he never heard before. What intrigued him even more was the challenge the director put out to students to make a change in the world. In the 10th grade Gregory completed the application and essay necessary to take part in the 10-day trip through parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. This wasn’t merely a tourist trip. The students were required to read John Lewis' autobiography, "Walking with the Wind," and meet once a week to discuss what they've read. They also did homework on the subject matter and were required to do journals and other work during the tour. Each day of the tour included a five-hour class session. Gregory states, “The workshop each day was five hours long but the information was so exciting that time flew by.” On the last day of the trip the students had to come up with an action plan, under the guidance of Ms. Wells, to incorporate what they learned into a positive change for their schools and community. The idea that stuck out the most was to have a nonviolence week in the high schools. The plan involved having a workshop with Minnijean Brown-Trickey She is one of the Little Rock Nine who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. She would speak about her experience and the principles of nonviolence. The principles of nonviolence were created by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc. The six principles of nonviolence are: nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people; nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding; nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice, not people; nonviolence chooses love instead of hate; nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice. The students received permission from Dr. Wendy Webb, Superintendent of Youngstown City Schools, to sell tee-shirts at lunch time with inspirational principles regarding nonviolence. Posters were put around the school with nonviolence quotes on them. Surveys were passed out to teachers regarding the six principles of nonviolence. The plan, which was just supposed to be for high school students, cannon balled into something much greater. When Dr. Webb saw what was happening she decided to incorporate Nonviolence Week in all Youngstown City Schools. The shirts promoting nonviolence week were open for purchase to all schools. Posters and surveys were given out to all schools. Then the project took another great step when one of the students who participated in the “Sojourn to the Past” program wrote the Mayor and City Council of Youngstown, asking that the city declare Oct. 5-9 as nonviolence week in Youngstown. The mayor responded with a proclamation, and council passed a resolution in support of the students. Shirt sales rose from 300 to over 1500. Billboards showing the students that took part in the program along with a principle of nonviolence were put up around the city of Youngstown. These students have proven that Youngstown has positive attributes. Change starts within and once the ripple effect begins the whole city can be turned around.
My son is home for a year while his wife is fighting the war in Iraq. He and his daughter are staying with me while he is attending YSU pursuing a criminal justice degree. I personally have been attending YSU since 2002. I am seeking my bachelor’s degree in business management. In my previous job I was not paid equally as my counterparts because I did not have a college background. After my kids were older and out of the house, I decided to go back to college.
Jerry S. has lived in Youngstown for 60 years. He is a graduate from South High School. When he was in his twenties he started to work for Delphi Packard Electric and worked there for 35 years. He worked in machine repair. He enjoyed his work and it was a great paying job to take care of his wife and four kids. In 2006 he was forced to retire because of the bankruptcy and buyouts. He did not plan to retire until he was 65 years of age, at the time he was only 57 years old. After he retired he wanted to try something new. He went to TDDS Trucking School and TCTC Auto Mechanic School and got certified to open up the garage he always wanted to own.
Marissa Van Der Wal
Deanne Van Der Wal enjoyed her job at Human Services in New Castle, PA. She was a medical transcriptionist that worked closely with the psychologists and nurses that were staffed with the company. She had been with the company for 10 years when she got word that many of the employees could possibly be losing their jobs. In fear of losing her job, Deanne decided to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. She started nursing school and graduated this fall with high honors. Having a medical background helped her excel in her classes and made it easier for her to do well in class. She recently started an externship so she could gain skills in the doctor’s offices and hospitals. Deanne is now half way through her externship and has multiple offers from doctors and even a couple hospitals in the Youngstown/Sharon area.
When I was sixteen, my Uncle Jim moved from Ohio to Israel for his job. As a government employee, his job always had him traveling around the world, but never for as far and long as his trip to Israel. Before he left the United States, he had to do plenty of research on the Israel culture. He even began learning as much Arabic as he could before his departure. My Uncle is now living back in the United States with his new Israeli wife. Now that he is back, I have had the opportunity to talk to him quite a bit about his experience.
He told me that overall, he loved his experience in Israel. At first, he really missed American food. In Israel, the majority of the food is consistent with the Jewish dietary laws. Every time he visited home, he could not wait to eat non kosher meat. When I asked him what the biggest difference was between Israel and the United States he simply replied everything. The religion, language, government, food, and people have different cultural norms. I remember his telling me about how everything is a bargain in Israel. In Israel, virtually everything is negotiable. All of the local shops and food/vegetable stands all negotiate their prices. This is something that is completely different than the American culture.
For the most part, my Uncle Jim loved Israel. He was able to go to a completely different culture, adapt to their ways, and meet his wife. He and his wife now live in Texas with three kids. From time to time, they go back to Israel to visit their old home and family. My Uncle Jim is a perfect example of a positive diversity experience.
Interesting Fact: Currently, there are some 250,000 US citizens living in Israel, making it the third largest American ex-patriot community after Canada and England.
Dominique Bell is a 15 year old 10th grader attending East High School in the Youngstown City School District. She is an honor Student. She started playing the flute, decided she wanted to play the clarinet - now she knows how to play two instruments. She auditioned for the Stambaugh Youth Concert Band at Stambaugh Auditorium. She was the only one that auditioned from the Youngstown City Schools. A flyer was posted on the bulletin board at school. Initially, she thought that she would be able to receive a scholarship for college (you have to be a senior). She auditioned in front of the band director of Y.S.U. and a Board member from Stambaught Auditorium. The majority of the children had private lessons. She did not have that advantage. This band consists of high school teenagers from Mahoning & Trumbull counties. After she finished the piece they told her "see you at practice next week". She is the only one from the Youngstown City Schools and likes it because she likes meeting new people.
Graduating from college is one of the m ost exciting achievements in a person’s life and opens the door for a new chapter to begin. My sister, Shelby Yannerella, graduated from YSU in December 2008 with a degree in marketing. During high school, she received her cosmetology license from the Mahoning County Career and Tehnical Center in Canfield, Ohio. Being Self-employed allows Shelby to use diversity as a tool for success and implement it in her lifestyle. As a marketing major in college, she knows what she has to do at her job to victorious. She reaches out to all individuals to be diverse. At 22 years old, she has her own house, a steady career, knows how to invest her money and is one of the most successful people I know.
Fun Fact: 6.4% of hair stylists went beyone a college degree.
My diversity story is one some may relate to. A few summers ago, my friend and I started out own landscaping business. Among others, we received the most phone calls from elderly people looking for work to be done at their homes. However, what was so unique and diverse was when we interacted with the elderly; they took so much pride in what they have done and were doing to maintain their house and their lives. We also gained so much insight and learned how things were done in different times. I learned so much about myself by committing myself to give them the best customer service that I could. Money was never the issue; loyalty to the customer was the number one issue.
“We all live with the objective of being happy;our lives are all different and yet the same.” – Anne Frank