YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Saturday is the big day for the Class of 2021 at Youngstown State University. They held their spring commencement. One speaker at the afternoon ceremony impacted everyone in attendance with her speech.
There were two ceremonies Saturday, one at 9 a.m. and the second at 3 p.m., for Youngstown State University students to receive their diplomas at Stambaugh Stadium.
This year’s graduation is the first time the ceremony has been held at Stambaugh Stadium.
“It’s the first time we have been outside. It’s something that we have talked about doing in the past, but we’ve never done it. with COVID and some of the restrictions and protocols, outside is really our only option at this point,” said Director of University Communications Ron Cole.
Local inspiration Kristin Fox was one of the speakers for Saturday’s afternoon festivities.
“You are a unique group. A group that has already proved you can overcome and thrive when the unthinkable is thrown at you. I am proud to also be apart of this group,” Fox said during her speech.
Fox is a YSU alum with a bachelor’s degree in middle childhood education.
She spoke to the graduates about her recent life story.
Fox was diagnosed with a severe case of the flu in March of 2020, leading to the amputation of both arms and legs.
She has not let those setbacks bring her down and is using her story to inspire many.
“One thing I’ve learned over the past year is to let things be a moment,” she said.
Her speech Saturday talked about overcoming obstacles in life and finding strength in struggles.
“I celebrate moments of triumph and moments when I realize I couldn’t do something a month or even a week prior. These moments become my motivation to keep moving and keep striving and defeat whatever obstacles come my way,” Fox said.
Many students were impacted by her wise words.
“It was really inspiring just to be able to hear her speak and her life story as well. It really brought everything into perspective. You know, we really did a lot this past year to just overcome COVID and everything and get to the finish line,” said Rolando Rojas Jr., a YSU graduate.
Fox talked about overcoming adversity as well as adapting to any situation. Her story of perseverance was just what graduates needed to hear as they approach life after college.
“Definitely resonated with the idea of overcoming some challenges because that was definitely present these past two years, but it’s good to overcome them,” said another graduate Cassie Smith.
Fox challenged students to believe in themselves and strive for their fullest potential.
“Rise up to every occasion,” Fox said. “Rise up to your challenges and rise up to all that you can be in each moment you face in life.”
Fox has been the assistant principal at Campbell City Schools since 2017.
She plans to continue working in education while still inspiring people to overcome challenges.