Watching his parents struggle as a child, Kato Mitchell knew that there wouldn’t be much of a chance for him to attend a university. All of that changed when Kato found a way to a college degree through the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Young Scholars Program (YSP) in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Connecting multiple levels of education, YSP enhances the professional development and personal growth of its pre-college students in grades 8-12. Young Scholars in good standing receive a robust college financial aid package consisting of federal and state grants, work-study, and the Young Scholars Award for admission to Ohio State. Serving as a stepping stone for success at Ohio State and beyond, since 1988, YSP has served more than 3,000 students from the nine largest urban public school districts in Ohio: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lorain, Toledo, and Youngstown.
Once admitted to the Young Scholars Program, Kato, along with YSP staff and his fellow Young Scholars, began building a strong foundation to prepare him for college. “They held many meetings about different issues just to get us ready: résumé building, ACT prep, and many other things.” Before his senior year, YSP brought Kato to Ohio State for two weeks for Summer Academy, along with the new seniors from all of the other YSP cities. While on campus, Kato participated in a variety of complementary academic activities that helped him feel more familiar with collegiate life. The Summer Academy also provided Kato the opportunity for career exploration by working with various colleges and departments at Ohio State as well as in the community.
For Kato, those two weeks on campus not only helped him understand what would be required of him as a college student but provided him with an additional support system consisting of friends who have been around for his entire academic journey and have become like family. “The people I have met stand out the most from my time at Ohio State, friends who have been my rocks while I am down in another city with all my problems. There have been times I really needed them to get through things.”
As a student-athlete – he is a wide receiver on the Buckeye football team – Kato had to balance academics with athletics. “It was hard because not only was I a student-athlete, but I also worked at the Hale Center, so balancing all that wasn't easy.” But once again, the support network that Kato had in place, both inside and outside the university, was there to help. “Talking to my brothers, Juice and Tuck, from back home, Mr. Parker from the Hale Center, my coaches, and of course my parents, they all helped me along the way by pushing me to do things I didn't think I could do at times.” Kato’s hard work paid off when he was named to the Ohio State 2015 Academic All-Big Ten team.
A fifth year student in Sports Industry with a minor in communications, Kato hadn’t originally picked that as his major. “I started as an art major, but I didn't enjoy it; it just wasn't for me. I talked to my advisor about switching – and I had no idea to what – and she pointed me in the direction of sports industry after I told her that my passion was sports.”
Kato is thankful that he found a way to attend college through a scholarship that rewarded him for his academic successes: “I made my own path with an academic scholarship by using my mind.” Once Kato graduates this year, for a while, he would like to be a sports marketer. After that, Kato plans to pay forward the assistance he received as a student by starting a non-profit with two of his brothers for inner city kids so they have a place to, as he says, “chill, have fun, participate in sports, learn, and develop for free.”