WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Warren native returns to the Mahoning Valley next week to share her incredible talents and knowledge during a special event to honor diversity and leadership at YSU.

Concert pianist Dana Kristina-Joi Morgan from the Warren G. Harding High School class of 1998 will perform at Stambaugh Auditorium. “There is so much talent in Ohio,” says Morgan. “And I really hope to motivate and inspire them to do bigger and better, and never forget their roots.”

Dana’s mom, Gwendolyn, makes it impossible to forget her roots. Gwen’s kept every single certificate, award, picture, trophy and news clipping from the last 35 years in what she calls a “shrine.”

Starting with a picture of Dana in a diaper, playing her first piano. “It played a little song, Fur Elise in fact it was,” says Gwendolyn. “And I think it just caught her ear.”

A few years later, Dana decided she needed a bigger piano to play. “My mother had the option to either buy a new car, or buy a piano,” says Dana.

Gwendolyn responds, “At six years old, I bought her a grand piano. Who does that?”

Gwen made sure Dana practiced a lot. Sure, she sometimes missed out on things her friends were doing. But now, Dana’s a decorated, in-demand concert pianist in D-C.

Just last month, she played during the Congressional Gold Medal ceremony for the foot soldiers of the 1965 voting rights marches.

“You can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been,” Dana says, “So it was really humbling for me to be there and to be able to honor them.”

Dana credits her teachers at Harding, and Capital and Howard Universities. She still takes piano lessons with Dr. Raymond Jackson at Howard and Everette McCollum in Youngstown. Her never-stop-learning attitude is something she hopes to pass along to this year’s award winners.

“It wasn’t just my parents supporting me, but it was my siblings, my church home, my school, Warren G. Harding,” says Dana. “It was a whole community.”

The YSU Diversity Leadership Recognition Dinner and concert are Thursday, March 31st, in the Stambaugh Auditorium Tyler Grand Ballroom. Cocktails start at 5:30, and dinner is at 6.

Tickets are $35 and are available at the Stambaugh Auditorium box office. The last day to buy tickets is Monday, Mar. 28 at 5:00 p.m.

You can call 330-259-0555 for more information.