Philanthropy at YSU

By Tala Alsharif

Fifty-five students at Youngstown State University are being supported by Navarro Scholarships this fall semester.

The common area outside the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, located on the second floor of Meshel Hall, has been named “The Shorty and Elba Navarro Commons” to honor Flor ‘Shorty’ and Elba Navarro for their history of philanthropy at the university. 

Flor ‘Shorty’ Navarro, president of Stadium GM SuperStore Inc., and Elba Navarro, a retired school teacher from Chaney High School, have been supporting students of YSU since 2001. 

“I wanted to be involved in the community and I found that Youngstown State University was the best, because I could help a lot of young people go to college,” Flor said. 

Elba said the first Navarro scholarship was started to support Hispanic students.

President of YSU Foundation, Paul McFadden, explained Shorty and Elba Navarro established three more scholarships at the YSU Foundation. 

“Their initial scholarship was to benefit students of Hispanic descent,” McFadden said. “They then moved into establishing another scholarship for students in education … one in business and one in STEM.” 

Elba said because she was a teacher, they decided to help students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and because of Flor Navarro’s history with business, they also decided to support students in business. 

Flor explained he wants to bring more students to the university, since he believes YSU is an important part of the Youngstown community.

“I don’t believe Youngstown can do what it does without the university,” Flor said. “This is our home. This is our school.” 

Flor believes the community, especially the Hispanic community in Youngstown, will benefit from the commons being named after the Navarros. 

“The Hispanic community is growing every day and we have more kids coming out to YSU than ever,” Flor said. “By seeing our name in there, it will give them … a positive light about coming to YSU.” 

Elba said she hopes students who received scholarships will be inspired to give back to the community and help future students.

“You don’t have to take five students, just take one and help that one student get through school,” Elba said. 

McFadden said the alumni who received Navarro scholarships often give back and want to help other students.

“It’s always powerful for an alumni to reach back and say, ‘Someone helped me when I was young, now I want to help those who are following in my footsteps,’” McFadden said. 

The Navarro Scholarships will be here for many generations to come, since Flor and Elba have endowed them, McFadden explained. 

McFadden said the scholarship provided to Hispanic students is chosen by Tiffany Thomas, the scholarship coordinator at the YSU Foundation. 

The business, STEM and education scholarships are chosen by the committees of those respective colleges.

Students interested in applying to a Navarro Scholarship can visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships and fill out the general application. For more information, visit the office’s website.