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Best of the Week 2020-2021: Holy Cross Values


On Thursday morning, the St. Ed's Community virtually celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This annual service provides our community with time to pray, reflect, and honor an individual deserving of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award. The St. Edward High School Martin Luther King, Jr. Award is awarded annually in recognition of an individual whose work or activities help spread the message of non-violence, love and human dignity throughout our community. This year's recipient, Judge Michael J. Ryan, a St. Ed's Board of Trustees member, has exemplified this commitment to the legacy of Dr. King.

As the father of Michael Ryan '15 and an engaged member of the St. Ed's Community, Judge Ryan is an advocate for helping young people turn their lives around. Overcoming a challenging childhood of his own, Judge Ryan dedicates his service to those in poverty who face similar hardships that he experienced. Growing up in public housing in Cleveland, Judge Ryan lived with extended family members throughout his life, attending 11 different schools by the time he was a sophomore in high school. School was a safe haven for Judge Ryan as it provided him with daily meals and a sense of community. Looking at the bigger picture, Judge Ryan saw his eduction as a path forward toward a better future. Upon graduation from Cleveland Heights High School, Judge Ryan attended Allegheny College on scholarship and continued on to Cleveland Marshall College of Law to earn his J.D. in 1996. In 2005, Judge Ryan was elected as the youngest African-American male judge in the Cleveland Municipal Court history. In 2012, he was elected judge as the youngest and second African-American male in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Juvenile division, the same position he still holds today.

“My experience does not impact how I see the facts of the case but it does shape how I want to influence individuals in the court,” says Judge Ryan. “A lot of the kids I see grew up in the same neighborhoods that I did and, inevitably, they’ll have excuses about the situation they find themselves in. When they hear me talk about personal experience, I can see their mindset and demeanor change.” Outside of his job, Judge Ryan serves on the Board for the Sisters of Charity Foundation, organizing initiatives focused on preventing homelessness among young adults, and has worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, focusing on strengthening families and creating accessible opportunities for them and their children. From his official work on the juvenile court to his countless hours of service to the community through various charity organizations, Judge Ryan serves as a model and wonderful example of servant leadership who is deserving of this year's Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.

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