Encouragement emanates from annual Diversity Breakfast at YSU


By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

“Everyone has the power of greatness. Not for fame, but for greatness. Because greatness is determined by service,” said the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

That was a message in his “I Have A Dream” speech given Aug. 28, 1963, and it also was the message at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Diversity Breakfast Thursday morning.

Students, professors and community members filled the Chestnut Room in Kilcawley Center to commemorate his life.

Sophomore student Damon Foster said he was overjoyed by the togetherness shown at the breakfast.

Gabi Gessler, president of the Student Government Association, introduced school, city and community leaders, including YSU President Jim Tressel, Youngstown Mayor John A. McNally and keynote speaker Rochelle Robinson.

Robinson, who is a former YSU attendee, Youngstown South Side native and first black mayor of Douglasville, Ga., reminisced about the highs and lows in her journey to victory to the crowd of 300.

Africana Studies program director Tiffany Anderson said she found Robinson’s address simply “phenomenal.”

“It’s empowering for Youngstown State students to see what a Youngstown State degree can do for you combined with a lot of aspiration and hard work,” she said.

Catherine Cala, YSU alumni engagement director, appreciated the “uplifting” and “inspiring” feel to the breakfast.

The Rev. Kenneth Simon, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, expressed a sense of pride evident during the breakfast.

“We’re so proud to see a Youngstown native come back and be a living role model and be a product of Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream,” he said.

Freshman student Alexis Martinez said the event made her feel thankful for her culture.

“The whole day was a great experience to celebrate [King] every year for everything that he’s done,” she said. “Everyone should be grateful.”

A modest Robinson gave a tearful goodbye, expressing her gratitude.

“Thank you all so much,” she said.” Just having this opportunity is all truly just wonderful.”

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