When Marcus Stevens’ seven-year-old brother Javon Jade Alfred was killed a few days before Christmas in 2004, Stevens could never have imagined that the memory of his brother would one day help him attain his goals.
Stevens is this year’s recipient of the Rotary Club of St. John’s Javon Jade Alfred Scholarship, a fund set up after the young boy was struck and killed while crossing the street as he headed home from a school holiday party.
Stevens is not the first in his family to win the scholarship. Malik Stevens, who is now in his sophomore year at Georgetown University, was awarded the scholarship in 2009.
The brothers’ relation to the scholarship’s namesake had no bearing on their being chosen for the award, explained St. John Rotary’s John Fuller.
“The family relation was an interesting coincidence,” said Fuller. “The fact that both Malik and Marcus have been awarded this scholarship indicates the family’s emphasis on education. They’re to be commended for that.”
Marcus Stevens stood out among those competing for the scholarship thanks to his grades, his desire to return to St. John after college to put his education to good use in the territory, and his well-rounded resume.
Stevens’ extensive list of accomplishments impressed the judges. He’s volunteered for the Special Olympics; helps out at the Sports, Parks and Recreation’s St. John rec center; was a member of the Love City Pan Dragons; ran track and field for his school; participated in the Men’s Rites of Passage Program; participated in Poetry Out Loud; was a Laws of Life essay contest winner; and was valedictorian of his class at the Julius E. Sprauve School.
“His desire to do something meaningful and to come back and apply it here on St. John made him a contender,” said Fuller. “He wants to get a degree in accounting and come back and work here in the islands.”
Stevens will graduate from Charlotte Amalie High School this year, and he has been accepted at Florida International University in Miami.
J’Waun Athanase, the other scholarship finalist who was edged out by Stevens, also made an impressive show, explained Fuller.
“Both of the young men would restore your faith in the youth of today,” he said.
Athanase plans to attend Full Sail University in Central Florida, where he’ll pursue an interest in computer games.
“This scholarship is both one of the most rewarding, and one of the hardest things we do in Rotary,” said Fuller. “To decide that one makes it and one doesn’t is very difficult.”
Thanks to Stevens’ impressive grades, community service and interview, as well as his financial need, he’ll be awarded a total of $12,500 over his four years at Florida International: $5,000 the first year, $3,500 the second year, $2,500 the third year and $1,500 his senior year.
The fact that the scholarship was created in memory of Stevens’ younger brother is just the icing on the cake.
“The scholarship was conceived shortly after JJ’s tragic death,” said Fuller. “The Rotary wanted to do something in his memory. It gives local kids the chance he never had.”