EGCC grads encouraged to be their best, dream
STEUBENVILLE — Since retiring from professional football, Deryck Toles has encouraged hundreds of disadvantaged youth to overcome obstacles and pursue their dreams.
And as keynote speaker for Eastern Gateway Community College’s 48th commencement program Saturday, Toles encouraged members of the school’s Class of 2017 to do their best in all aspects of their lives, from their work to their relationships with others.
“Be the best person you can be. Be your best at everything,” said Toles, who played for the Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts before an injury brought his football career to an end.
Returning to his hometown of Warren, Toles founded Inspiring Minds, an organization aimed at improving disadvantaged youth’s chances for success by providing them additional instruction after school and during the summer, arranging visits to colleges and industries throughout the U.S. and beyond and providing more than $60,000 in scholarships.
Having no hope for a positive future is something Toles understands. He told members of EGCC’s Class of 2017 he grew up in Columbus in a house without parents. His father hadn’t been a part of his life and his mother’s addiction to drugs led her to being absent for extended periods.
As a fourth-grader he routinely cooked and cleaned and helped his younger brother and sister with their homework. He later moved in with his grandmother in Warren but had become very insecure and angry.
Toles said he tried out for basketball but was ineligible because of his poor grades. Fortunately, a football coach took him under his wings, offering the stern but supportive guidance he had lacked, he recalled.
Toles said anyone who has been successful has had someone who both believed in them and pushed them to follow their goals.
He told the EGCC grads they have faced their own detractors or obstacles “but, guess what, you did it?”
“This is just the first section of your lives,” Toles said, adding the graduates can apply the same determination as they move forward.
In welcoming the many in attendance, EGCC President Jimmie Bruce said commencements are his favorite time of the year because it is then that he sees “anticipation in the faces of the graduates, pride in the faces of our faculty and staff and joy in the faces of the students’ family members.”
Bruce asked the graduates’ parents and other family members to stand and be recognized for the support they have given.
He also asked attendees to observe moments of silence for the loss over the last year of four members of the EGCC community: John “Jack” Gilmore and Ruel Mitchell, both active members of the college’s board of trustees who have seen it through expansion; and two late faculty members: Bill Hope, an English and speech instructor there for many years; and Sandra Ewusiak, a nursing professor and interim dean of allied health and public services for the school.
Degrees were conferred to the following local graduates:
Adena: Carrie Wallace.
Amsterdam: Jamie Brown, Dawn Fairclough, Genevieve Koniski, Christopher McCallister, Hunter Myers, Tina Sandy, Cara Scopel, Elissa Thompson.
Avella: Nicholas Brennan.
Bergholz: Dylan Hurst, Ian Porter, Jeffrey Stone.
Bloomingdale: Shelby Bennett, Nolan Burchfield, Tyler Campbell, Aaron Eckley, Brittany Herbert, Bonnie Hunt, Katelynn Jeffers, Katie Kasper, Harley Moffo, Denise Moores, Anthony Robinson, Haley Robinson, Eric Taylor, Jason Tracey.
Brilliant: Shelby Green, Mikah Grubb, Jennifer Mossor, Jessicah Tate.
Cadiz: Michael Kuester, Michael Kuester.
Carrollton: Kristin Potts, Nikki Benning, Jamie Moore.
Chester: Patrick Morris.
Dillonvale: Andrew Grimm, Karacel Hayman, Erica Mossor, Mary Beth Panepucci, Michael Pietro, Chelsey Ralston, Tesla Spears. .
Empire: Danielle Adkins, Belinda Stock.
Hammondsville: Shaniah Carpenter, Tyler Hooper.
Hopedale: Jessie Kocher, Ashley Allan, Samantha Liggett.
Irondale: Odessa Fiala.
Jewett: Dustyn Moore.
Mingo Junction: Allison Kralik, Jesse Crim, Tracy Crothers, Kimberly Day, Tricia Giusto-Barkoci, Jessica Gump, Madison Knight, Cole Recinella, Amber Rose, Amelia Smith, Derek Starr, Jacob Sutton, Gabriel Thomas.
Mount Pleasant: Tammy Simmons, Nathan Teater.
New Cumberland: Bonnie Clark, Matthew Barnes, Bonnie Clark, Cody Moncrief, Monty McClelland.
Rayland: Hannah Hirsch, Samantha Petznick.
Richmond: Brian Bissett, Jayci Alban, Kaitlyn Hoover, Brad Mason, Keith Tharp, Jaclyn Wiedaman.
Scio: Shelby Freeman, Cindy Napier, Ivy Vint.
Smithfield: Cristeana Higgins.
Steubenville: Stacey Billham, Pamela Cox, Nicholas Damis, Shannon Ditter, Christopher Freeman, Lucas Gallabrese, Michael Hayden, Rosella Merino, Kacy Smith, Matthew Scott, Adam Wickham, Seth Wilson, Kayla Wright, Madison Coulter, Kaitlyn Cronin, Kevin Daugherty, Abrielle Davis, Deanna DiCarlo, Michael Eller, Logan Bednar, Christina Floyd, Stephanie Fluharty, Rene Forte, Kayla Francis Blackburn, Chelsea Gibson, Robert Hammel, Marie Helsel, Nicholas Ivkovich, Elizabeth Jones, Dallas Kennedy, Kayla Lemley Raiford, Lindsey Lovato, Angela Lyons, Justin Matthews, Chelsea Maxwell, Ryne McClelland, Amber Meszaros, Travis Moore, Andrea Morrow, Joanna Newlen, James Norris, Melisa Oliver, Rachel Quaigg, Bill Raymond, Thomas Riley, Joi Roshak, Jasmine Smith, Maria Tipton, Adam Wickham, Kayla Wright, Timonty Young.
Stratton: Connor Bahen.
Toronto: Kaylea Bell, Brandon Logan, Tiffany Martin, John Sciance, Karyssa Smith, Tierra Taylor, Alyssa Antill, Kaylea Bell, Lexie Berger, Mara Dilley, Terri Falasca, Samantha Genter, Colin James, Braden Haught, Daniel Kolopajlo, Anica Lease, Tiffany Martin, Brooke McTheny, Michael Mellott, Virginia Pahl, Melissa Pearson, Savannah Ray, Jayce Robinson, Deanna Swearingen, Roseanne Tizziani, Michael Watkins, Emilee Weaver, Carli Winstel.
Weirton: Tim Elder, Brandon Shughart, Tara Cork, Tiffany Kilmartin, Tiffany Macek, Adam Murphy, Makeba Stafford, Victoria Wilson, Chasidy Vladich.
Wellsburg: Courtney Fiber, Jacob Ohler, Kristen Stewart.
Wellsville: Brittany Clendenning, Antonia Lombardozzi, Brittany Smith
Wintersville: Zebadiah Butterfield, Stephen Butto, Mercedes Lancia, Angela Prokopakis, Cortney Yohe, Jenna Bennett, Michael Dandrea, Jessica Eckersberg, Briana Berryman, Tyler Bowers, Hannah Boyer, Cara Brodie, Winston Brown, Nikki Costlow, Shaun Ford, Rebecca Hunter, Cheryl Johnson, Devin Kennedy, Thomas Lamantia, Erika Maple, Megan Marquis, Krista Ondos, Aerica Rawson, Jeanna Scarabino, Melanie Smith, Ashlyn Wilson, Chandler Youngkin.
Wolf Run: Abigail Matta.