ODI Homecoming honors longstanding first-gen program

Brutus Buckeye with YSP staff

ODI Homecoming honors longstanding first-gen program

By Aaron Marshall

Old friendships were rekindled and new connections forged as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) held Homecoming celebrations for alumni and supporters focused on the 35th Anniversary of the Young Scholars Program (YSP).

On Friday night, dozens of YSP alumni, students, and staff took to the campus streets to participate in the university's annual Homecoming parade. Then on Saturday morning, ODI's gameday pre-party featured a tribute to the scholarship and enrichment program including remarks from a longtime YSP staffer who also graduated from the program. "People who look like me had a story to tell and we just needed an opportunity, and YSP gave it to us," said Eric Fletcher, a self-proclaimed "kid from the west side of Akron" who eight years ago returned as a YSP program coordinator in the Rubber City. "This program means everything to me."

A Sunday morning brunch for YSP alumni, staff, and students capped the weekend off for the pipeline program, which brings educational opportunities to first-generation students from Ohio's largest cities. "One can hardly imagine--much less measure--the collective impact of generations of YSP alums as they engage in service, build stronger communities, and exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens," said Yolanda Zepeda, ODI's interim vice provost at Sunday's brunch.

"YSP undoubtedly changes the lives of its alumni, but it's the alumni that change the lives of their family members, their neighbors, and people they touch who benefit from their good works," Zepeda added. The weekend's activities kicked off on Thursday with a welcome reception for ODI supporters at the Faculty Club.

Each year, YSP serves 1,000 students state-wide, including over 700 in grades 8-12 and 350 undergraduate students. Young Scholars must complete a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and maintain a minimum unweighted high school GPA of 3.3 or above to be eligible for the scholarship.

Brutus Buckeye with Yolanda Zepeda and Andrea Williams
Kimberly Low McCalla speaks with attendees
ODI HOmecoming attendees dance to the DJ's music
Homecoming attendees mingle and eat while listening to music
Chila Thomas talks to attendee
Attendees sit at a table dressed in Ohio State colors
DJ spins some tunes
Attendees take a photo in scarelt and grey
Group photo of ODI attendees
Brutus Buckeye takes a selfie!
YSP walk down memroy lane
YOlanda Zepeda speaks at the podium