From Cleveland Public to Ivy League: Tonisha Calbert
There’s a billboard on I-90 West that says “From Cleveland to Harvard.”
The ad isn’t just a game face. One of Cleveland’s own is a walking testimonial.
Tonisha Calbert — call her Toni — was the first Cleveland Public Schools graduate to attend Harvard University in close to a decade when Cleveland Magazine announced its most interesting people in 1999.
Her personal essay on overcoming shyness impressed Harvard recruiters.
“Getting into Harvard was the hardest thing I ever did,” she says, “and everything followed after that.”
Calbert graduated in 2002 and went on to Columbia Law School. Now she’s a first-year corporate associate working with companies on their security filings at the firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York City. “Being a lawyer was on the list of many things I could have done,” she says confidently.
At the moment, however, returning to Cleveland full time is not on that list.
“I still envision a time when I’ll move back to Cleveland, but for now ...” she trails off, satisfied with the closet-size West Village apartment she shares with an old college roomie, then adds, “Everything here stays open really late."