“Mrs. Vanderpool [with CHS] equipped me with the leadership skills to go into the world and be a part of the change I want to see.”

Evon Thompson is Valedictorian of Evans High School, c/o 2020. He will be attending Harvard University in the fall, studying Neurosurgey.

As a child in a remote community in Jamaica, Evon envisioned a world that provided equal access to health care for everyone, regardless of economic status. He dreamt of becoming a neurosurgeon and providing access to medical care for all patients, no matter their backgrounds.

Seeking more opportunities for her ambitious son,  Evon’s mother moved  their family to the United States in 2016. As Evon settled into his new life as a student at Evans High School, A Community Partnership School, the unthinkable occurred. Following a routine mammogram, Evon’s mother was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer. Evon quickly adapted to the role of caretaker, providing emotional support while also assisting with his mother’s medical care.

In the midst of it all, he remained dedicated to his academic goals … but he began to feel that no one else could understand the difficulties they were facing. His fears grew until he connected with Children’s Home Society of Florida and the Hub at Evans High School, A Community Partnership School. There, he “encountered a community of teachers, mentors, residents and friendwho offered support in meaningful ways, beyond measure.” Evon is quick to express his gratitude for all he found – even during his family’s hardest times, he shares, CHS and his community was there. And Evon wanted to be there for his community, too.

The Hub helped me grow the perspective that anyone can be a leader and can voice their concerns to take action to create a world they want to see. At Evans, I felt like I was actively making Pine Hills better. What I have learned from my experiences with the Hub can be applied to have a positive effect on the community.”

A positive effect indeed.  A proud resident of Pine Hills, Evon strives to bring sustainable change to his community through his passion for community service and advocacy.

His passion led him to the Hub’s Student Leadership Council, where he met Ms. Curtesa Vanderpool, Area Director for Community Partnership Schools at Children’s Home Society of Florida, who quickly became a solid mentor.

With this support, Evon represented the Community Partnership SchoolsTM model at America’s Promise Alliance’s State of Young People Summit in partnership with Facebook Education and was also sponsored twice by CHS to serve as a Senate Page, where he spent a week in Tallahassee for an in-depth, hands-on experience in politics, which offered him another way to see how he can influence positive change.

Evon’s senior year was filled with accomplishments, including serving as the valedictorian, acceptances to Harvard University, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania, and the honor of being one of 300 Gates Scholarship winners and he is one of 24 Ron Brown Scholars. Through the Virginia Morey Rell Memorial Scholarship, Children’s Home Society of Florida will help cover educational expenses, travel and book fees as he continues to fulfill his aspirations.

Evon looks forward to his next journey at Harvard University; he compares the sense of community he felt visiting the campus with the same sense of community he felt from CHS and the Community Partnership School at Evans High School, affectionately known as the Hub.

“Everyone was very welcoming, and I felt a sense of belonging. I felt like I connected with the school and it had everything I was looking for – world-class professors, the educational opportunities are excellent – it is something you can only dream of. I just kept thinking about the diversity and the sense of community.”

Evon hopes to establish a network of community health centers that address the primary care needs of individuals and their families, regardless of their ability to pay. His experiences with Children’s Home Society of Florida have led him to a passion for service, scholarship and community engagement. “This, I believe, is my calling. In whatever field I pursue, I will employ my knowledge and abilities in the service of community.”

Evon proudly shares how CHS helped him take the first step toward creating the change he wants to see. “I think it starts with leadership – knowing what leadership means to me. I learned very well from Ms. Vanderpool and the way she sees the importance of our voice and the power we have to facilitate change within systems.”