Current Scholar Spotlight: LaRazia Tolbert

LaRazia TolbertThe neighborhood in Youngstown where LaRazia grew up wasn’t the kind of place, she says, where people wanted to stay or come back to. “Where I’m from, no one says they want to return; everyone is trying to escape with no looking back.” But LaRazia looks at her community from a different perspective: she, too, wants to leave but only so that she can return and bring back what she has learned and better where she is from.

When LaRazia entered the Young Scholars Program in sixth grade at Youngstown’s W. H. McGuffey Elementary School, she found an opportunity to go to college and receive the education that she knew she would need to get where she wanted to be in her life. “My dream of going back to my community and actually trying to make it better would not be possible otherwise. My being a YSP Scholar and a future Buckeye was honestly the answer to my prayers.”

Once LaRazia began classes at The Ohio State University, all of the skills and knowledge she gained while a Young Scholar made her transition from high school student to college student “so much more easy.” All of the programming – from Junior Summer Institute to the Summer Bridge Program – played a positive role in LaRazia’s transition. Being on campus with her fellow Young Scholars – and Ohio State faculty members and staff – before the rest of the Ohio State students arrived gave her time to make connections that will last through her four years at the university. “YSP allowed for bonds and connections to be made with over 90 of my OSU’20 peers prior to the arrival of the thousands of other freshmen. I can honestly say I didn’t feel alone at all. And it wasn’t just with my peers, but staff and professors, too.”

For LaRazia, the staff within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s Young Scholars Program became like family, helping her to adjust to life on campus: “YSP is what made this place feel like home, from the laughing, talking, and fun times to even the down-to-business, study, and get-your-work-done times. It is all fun and love; that’s what made this huge transition seem like a minute, very possible thing to do, an achievable, realistic goal.” But switching from high school to college hasn’t been without its challenges. For LaRazia, her biggest hurdle was, as she puts it, “putting myself out there and socializing.” Once again, her YSP family gave her the support and advice she needed. “As usual I went back to my YSP family who helped me to open up. I was encouraged by both my peers and mentors to explore and find some way to get involved. Once I took their advice, it was like a walk in the park. Now I am involved in various student organizations here on campus, and I have made even more connections.”

Although she is just in her first year at Ohio State, LaRazia has already declared her major: she will have a double major in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies and in Sociology. She is also planning on minoring in Dance. Criminal Justice is something that LaRazia has been interested in since she was a child. “Ever since I was a little girl, I had an inkling for crime. I just loved watching shows like Law & Order: SVUNCIS, and Burn Notice. I also loved mysteries and trying to solve them; I was always reading some book that had some form of mystery within it.” It wasn’t until she came to Ohio State and took an introduction to Sociology course that LaRazia realized how interested she was in that subject as well. “Luckily, Sociology and Criminology go hand-in-hand with each other. Having both as a major will be very beneficial to my future plans.” As for the minor in dance, in high school, LaRazia took dance for four years, and she’s always had a strong passion for the arts, having played the saxophone for the past nine years.

Once she graduates, LaRazia is not sure what she will do, although she has definite ideas on what she would like to do. “My plans after graduation are not fully determined just yet. Considering all of the things that are currently going on in the world, especially in the criminal justice field, part of me would like to enter the work force right away as a special agent or detective. I’m also looking to attend graduate school as well and receive my master’s degree.” As if that weren’t enough options, LaRazia says there is always the idea of law school, although she admits that over the years, she’s realized that she wants to be in the field more than in the courtroom. “I’d much rather prefer to solve the case and catch the criminals as opposed to defending them or anything of that nature. I guess you could say, in a way, I want to be a part of the action, for lack of a better phrase.”

Regardless of what path LaRazia takes, she will certainly leave her mark.


Prior Spotlights

Carly Sobol Spotlight

Carly Sobol Spotlight

Growing up in a small community in Dayton, Ohio, Carly Sobol was fortunate to receive a great education, be surrounded by inspiring individuals, and have a strong family unit. “My family was one of a few Jewish families in the neighborhood. I learned at a young age the value of tradition and the challenges that come with being unique. I loved explaining my heritage to friends and learning more about theirs.”

 Read more about Carly Sobol.

Alexis Myers spotlight

Alexis Myers spotlight

When she first came to The Ohio State University as a Young Scholar, Alexis Myers never thought of herself as someone who could be a role model or a mentor. Little did she know that at Ohio State, Alexis would become an Academic Success Partner within the Young Scholars Program. “When I came to Ohio State, I never thought of myself as someone who could be a role model or a mentor for anyone else, but when this opportunity came to me, I knew I needed to take advantage,” she said. Read more about Alexis Myers.

Kyla Wilson spotlight

Kyla Wilson spotlight

Kyla Wilson has put a lot of thought into her career path. “I always wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, but I hate science so that didn’t work. As for the law, I like reading, but law just bored me!” Her uncle would tell Kyla, who was good at math, that since she was in the fourth grade, she should know her multiplication tables. “He made me work in a composition book every day over the summer.” By the end of the summer, Kyla was hooked, and she knew that arithmetic was going to play a part in her future.

 Read more about Kyla Wilson.

MiChaela Barker spotlight

MiChaela Barker spotlight

Through the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, The Ohio State University and 10 additional Ohio colleges and universities are helping to increase underrepresented student success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.  As one of 78 LSAMP scholars on the Ohio State campus, MiChaela Barker has found a community that not only understands her on a cultural level but on an academic level as well. Read more about MiChaela Barker.

Shelly Martin spotlight

Shelly Martin spotlight

If there is one thing that Shelly Martin has learned, it is that education can light up a dark world. And when she realized that her passion was people, she combined those two certainties into her life’s work and purpose. Read more about Shelly Martin.

Zaid Hightower spotlight

Zaid Hightower spotlight

The spring before Zaid Hightower was ready to begin classes at The Ohio State University, he received an email from the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, inviting him to attend the Center’s Early Arrival Program (EAP). It was his mother who read the email and told Zaid that he needed to attend the program. Read more about Zaid Hightower.

Maya Prabhu Spotlight

Maya Prabhu Spotlight

The day in April 2013 that Maya Prabhu received the Morrill Scholarship will forever be etched in her memory. “It was a day of tears, hugs, and – most importantly – empowerment. Since that day, my experiences with the Morrill Scholars Program and the Distinction Scholarship have given me many tools and resources that I know will help me succeed in all areas of my life.” Read more about Maya Prabhu.

Daniel Moussa Spotlight

Daniel Moussa Spotlight

Daniel Moussa has long been interested in the sciences, and his background in sports has led him to focus on the “silent epidemic” of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which are often the results of sports accidents. “As someone who plays sports, I am aware of the dangers of concussions, which are a type of TBI, and their long-term effects,” Daniel stated. Read more.

Ignacio Munoz Spotlight

Ignacio Munoz Spotlight

After just one week at The Ohio State University, Ignacio Muñoz was confident that he made the right choice when choosing which university to attend. A freshman at Ohio State, Ignacio is proud to be a Buckeye because he knows that the university will provide him with a current platform to build upon all aspects of himself as well as become a future springboard to propel him into his career and adult life. Read more about Ignacio Muñoz.

Rolando Muniz Spotlight

Rolando Muniz Spotlight

Rolando Muniz always understood the value of and the need for diversity and inclusion. At St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy in Toledo, Rolando was part of the school’s 20/20 Program, which helps underrepresented students by providing financial aid and scholarship opportunities. The program also pays for students' ACT and SAT and college application fees – or any other needed test or document – and provides additional support such as jobs outside of school and volunteering opportunities. Read more about Rolando Muniz.


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