Heights High alum makes global impact

Ruth DeGolia

The global problem-solving skills of a Cleveland Heights native were featured on a nationally syndicated television show April 23.

Ruth DeGolia was featured on the “Tyra Banks Show” for starting the company "Mercado Global," a trail-blazing fair trade organization. Through her company she helps women artisans in Latin America by selling their handmade fashion products. The sales from Mercado Global provide income to the artisans, many of whom are widows.

DeGolia is most proud of the volume of income her company has been able to send back to Guatemala. “It is amazing what people can accomplish,” DeGolia said. Her organization has doubled its sales each year and provided scholarships to send 237 children to school.

DeGolia credits her experience growing up in Cleveland Heights and attending Heights High. “Growing up in a diverse community taught me how to respect and interact with a range of people. The skills I gained at Heights High help me successfully engage and partner with people ranging from fashion designers, highland artisans who can neither read nor write, corporate executives, and indigenous leaders. Our success at building such an innovative and powerful organization is based on our ability to develop this range of partnerships.”

In high school DeGolia was the editor-in-chief of the Black and Gold student newspaper. She says that her newspaper teacher, Tim Scasny, was her biggest influence at Heights High. “He gave me a reason to be challenged,” DeGolia said.

“When she came to an obstacle, she found a solution for it,” Scasny said, noting that DeGolia was very enthusiastic and cared a lot about people. “I was blessed to have her as a student.”

After graduating from Heights High in 2000, she went on to major in international studies at Yale University, where came up with the idea of Mercado Global. “We have found a way to harness the power of the markets to promote good around the world. We are all about women helping women, and looking good in the process!”

Phil Torres is a graduating senior at Cleveland Heights High School. He will study journalism at Bowling Green State University.

Read More on Features
Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 1:04 PM, 05.14.2008