COMMENTARY: Born into difficult circumstances, YWCA scholarship winner perseveres and inspires

CINCINNATI – As a rule in my job as a reporter, I try not to cry during interviews. It’s not necessarily something I learned in journalism school. It just seems like bad form.

But as a mom, sometimes I can’t help myself.

One of those times happened Wednesday just before the start of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati’s Career Women of Achievement luncheon at the Duke Energy Convention Center Downtown.

I’ve attended these luncheons as a reporter many times in the past, and they’re always quite moving. I was especially excited this year because the keynote speaker was none other than Viola Davis, the acclaimed movie and Broadway star. I assumed she would be a terrific speaker, and she was.

Still, I decided I wanted to meet one of the nonprofit’s scholarship recipients before the luncheon, too.

That’s when Jalese Stone made me cry.

She didn’t do it on purpose. The 17-year-old Newport High School senior couldn’t have been more sweet or poised or well spoken.

It was her story that did it.

Jalese grew up in difficult circumstances. Her father spent a lot of time in and out of jail for drug-related offenses. When he was home, he was abusive toward her mother.

Jalese got involved with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati, she told me. She learned she was intelligent. And she decided to put that intelligence to use. She worked hard all through school, got good grades and earned close to a full ride from the University of Louisville, where she will begin her college studies in August. Her ultimate goal is to be a cardiologist.

As inspiring as that is, though, that’s not what made me cry.

Insiders can read more about Jalese's story and why it had such an impact on WCPO reporter Lucy May.

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