Fighting Poverty with Education

For nearly 150 years, the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown have been dedicated to the education of women, men and children. The creation of the Ursuline Sisters Scholars Program grew out of a clear need to address people living in poverty.

It was painfully apparent that those who did not pursue a higher education found themselves restricted to low-wage jobs with insufficient wages and few opportunities for advancement.

There was no better advocate for the poor than Sister Jerome Corcoran. She felt strongly that the key to breaking the cycle of poverty was to earn an education.

She knew an advanced education equates to higher wages, better healthcare outcomes, an increased sense of pride in self, more stable families, and in turn, a more solid community. It was through her hard work and dedication that the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program was born.

Sister Jerome was amazingly well-educated in her own right. She began her educational journey at St. Columba Elementary School and was a 1934 graduate of Ursuline High School.

She attended St. John College, Cleveland, earned a BA in English from Sisters College at the Catholic University of America in 1942.

She then earned an MA in English from Catholic University and a Ph. D. in Education from Western Reserve University in Cleveland in 1952.

Throughout 79 years of active ministry, Sister Jerome dedicated her life to advocating for the poor through education. In 1967, Sister Jerome conducted GED classes in Youngstown enabling people to earn a high school diploma. In 1976, she began Millcreek Children’s Center for preschool education in the city of Youngstown.

In 1998, Sister Jerome, along with Sister Mary Dunn and the Board of Developing Potential, Inc. began a charter school, Youngstown Community School. Sister Jerome retired from the Millcreek Children’s Center in 2012. In 2013, the year after she retired, she kept going and created what would become the Ursuline Sisters Scholar’s program.

Believing everyone deserve access to a quality education to achieve a better and brighter future, Ursuline Sisters Scholars, a program of our Beatitude House ministry, helps college students from low-income families achieve their academic aspirations through mentorship and financial assistance for school-related living expenses.  The goal is to break the cycle of poverty through education and help underprivileged adults overcome everyday challenges.

In 2020 alone, the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program served 54 students, 16 of which reached graduation (61% of whom were single parents). 55 students have been served so far in 2021. In the past 3 years (2018-2021) a total of 94 students have been served.

The program awarded three scholarships for the Fall 2020 semester. Tymira received $1,000 from the Beeghly Fund for Scholars. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work at Ursuline College, and graduated during the Spring 2021 semester. Ashlee received $1,000 from the Boardman Rotary Fund for Scholars and is currently working on her associate degree in occupational therapy at Kent Trumbull.

Nasheema received $1,000 from the Kennedy Fund for Scholars. She graduated from Trumbull Career & Technical Center with her license in practical nursing and will use this scholarship to further her education at Cuyahoga Community College and earn her associate of applied science degree in nursing. 

Three scholarships were awarded for the Spring 2021 Semester. Rasha received $1,000 from the Comerford Fund for Scholars and is studying Health Information Management Eastern Gateway Community College. Kathryn received $1,000 from the Boardman Rotary and is working on her bachelor’s degree in social work at Youngstown State University. Lastly, Ashlee received $500 from Ursuline Sisters Fund for Scholars and is working on her associate degree in occupational therapy at Kent Ashtabula. 

The program had three graduates during the Fall 2020 semester. Luz graduated from Mercy in the College of Nursing. Theodora earned a degree from Youngstown State University in Hospitality Management, and Beth earned a degree in Integrative Studies from Kent State Ashtabula.

There are five students who graduated or are graduating between May-July 2021. Chondia and Kara will graduate from Choffin in Licensed Practical Nursing. Amanda will graduate from Kent State Ashtabula with a degree in Human Services. Yasmeen will earn a degree in Paralegal Studies from Eastern Gateway Community College, and Tymira will graduate from Ursuline College with a degree in Social Work.

We’re proud of all our graduates, and thankful to Sister Jerome for her passionate work to raise people up through education. What started with 12 students in 2013 has grown into a hugely successful program with an 80% success rate helping so many to break the cycle of poverty.

Donations to this program to continue Sister Jerome’s work can be made by contacting Beatitude House.