Over the last three decades, many partnerships have contributed to the success of CYC.  We are especially proud of our strong relationship with the University of Cincinnati and its inspirational leaders – President Santa Ono and First Lady Gwendolyn Yip – who are well aware of the importance of educational and mentoring opportunities for vulnerable local students.  We are pleased to honor them as our November Heroes. 

Homecoming 2014 Parade and tailgating, downtown Paul Brown Stadium
Homecoming 2014 Parade

President Ono and First Lady Yip have brought a commitment to the Cincinnati region that is unique and refreshing for organizations that strive to empower young vulnerable students. This year, Ono and Yip were CYC’s Dream Makers Celebration Honorary Co-Chairs.  At the event, Ono commented, “We are reminded daily just how important education is for building successful futures, and if Cincinnati is to remain the strong, vibrant community it is, we must invest in and advocate for all of our students.” 

UC students often talk about their ability to relate to Ono.  CYC can certainly speak to this as he made a point to meet each of CYC’s 2015 Outstanding Students and congratulate them on a job well-done, ensuring these students that college requires a tremendous amount of hard work but assuring them that the end result is well worth the effort. 

Ono and Yip have committed countless hours to connecting kids to educational and enrichment opportunities at UC, CYC and other local organizations.  Yip proudly serves on the Board of Directors of the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses, where she works to do exactly this – find the appropriate and necessary resources for people of need, including children. 

Recently, Josh, a Withrow High School graduate and current student at Ohio State University, sent a thank you note to Yip. He wrote, “Thank you for being involved with my childhood community.  Even trying to help me individually, that showed me a great deal about how much effort you put into helping others and trying to give others opportunities to advance their lives.” 

At CYC’s Dream Makers Celebration, Yip appealed to the audience to get involved, to mentor, and to be a positive role model in the life of a child.  She stated, “We have more work to do to ensure the success of ALL students in our community.  I urge you to get involved and volunteer at CYC!”

Ono and Yip strive to broaden horizons and inspire students to achieve their best.  CYC serves numerous first-generation college students each year, and Ono and Yip are the first to advocate for and reach out to these students with encouragement and support.  Ono was once quoted as saying “My overriding principle is this: What can I do with my privileged position to help others?”  The same holds true for Yip.  Together, they are dedicated to increasing opportunity and ensuring that dreams do come true. 

CYC is very proud to recognize that over the last 5 years more than 500 CYC high school graduates have become University of Cincinnati Bearcats.  Thank you, President Ono and First Lady Yip, for your commitment to CYC’s students. 

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CYC Heroes is a monthly feature recognizing individuals who go above and beyond expectations to serve the CYC community. Heroes come in many shapes and sizes: mentors, students, ambassadors, employees, donors, volunteers, and board members. Know someone who makes CYC stronger? Submit your CYC Hero nomination to Kate Elliott, at kelliott@cycyouth.org