Steevenson makes us proud

Steevenson Saint Louis has been overcoming difficulties his entire life.

After his father passed away when he was 8 years old, his mom, unable to provide for him, placed him in an orphanage.

Eight years later, Steevenson chose to leave the orphanage, working with the director to track down his mom in hopes of restoring a relationship with her before it was too late.

Though life back with his mom was a daily struggle for basic needs, the opportunity to attend Grace Emmanuel School at no cost made it possible for him to live with her and still complete his high school education.

Hard-working and determined, Steevenson became the valedictorian of Grace Emmanuel School’s first graduating class in 2017 and was later chosen as one of two recipients of the first college scholarships awarded to GES graduates.

“I didn’t have any hope to go to university, and you chose to help me,” Steevenson said in an interview in 2017. “I guarantee I’ll do my best to make you proud.”

Over the last four years, Steevenson has made good on that promise.

Steevenson addresses the crowd at his graduation in June 2017.

Four years at university

Steevenson began attending GOC University in the fall of 2017, and the finish line is now in sight. He will earn his undergraduate degree in business administration this July.

As he reflects back on his time in university, a few memories stand out. Twice he’s been honored for earning the top marks in his class for the semester. But it’s his first day at university that he’ll never forget.

“It was Thursday, November 16, 2017,” he said. “It was a grand day for me and very remarkable because I entered into a new world—the world of the student—that would make me a professional. I felt wonderful and happy. I hadn’t known how I would ever get to go to university or come to have the chances I’ve had. It has brought joy to my heart and made me better understand who I am and what I stand for.”

When he reflects on how his life would have been different without the scholarship, Steevenson knows his options were limited. “I would have tried to teach a class or had a business and saved money so I could have afforded to learn something after a year or so, but I wouldn’t have been able to pay for university.”

Steevenson on his college campus; Steevenson with his certificate and medal for earning the highest marks in his class in the spring of 2020.

Yet winning a scholarship hasn’t made life a breeze. Unlike some of JiHM’s other scholarship recipients who can still live with family, Steevenson, 24, fends for himself on a very limited budget.

Throughout college, it has been a constant struggle for him to maintain a working laptop—or even find reliable electricity to keep one charged. He often works at a classmate’s house to borrow technology, and then arrives home very late, worried for his safety given the current security situation in Haiti. He’s not sure how he’ll pay for rent again in July.

Then, he says, there’s the matter of food.

“I don’t always take good care of myself,” he said. “I study.” He currently is taking a heavy load—a capstone class, organizational behavior, Haitian taxation, professional ethics, financial analysis, and production theory—and has classes nearly every day, sometimes from 8 am to 5 pm.

“On days like that, I leave at 7 am because I walk and don’t want to arrive late,” Steevenson said. “If I don’t have food for breakfast, I leave without eating and then spend 9 hours sitting in class. When I get home around 6 pm, I can either make something to eat or study and do my homework because I don’t have the time for both. If I have food, I’ll make something after I finish studying. If I don’t, I’ll just go to bed without.” He recalls two days just this month where he has fainted from hunger and missed classes.

Yet Steevenson presses on. “Despite all these difficulties that could make me discouraged,” he said, “I remain steadfast because I know what I want and I want to go even further. I remain confident in God.”

Steevenson in front of his house and Grace Emmanuel School in 2018.

Looking ahead

In another five years, Steevenson hopes to be advancing his administration skills within the leadership of an organization. “I am really motivated to be better at what I am doing, and I want to work in a place where I can develop my skills, take on a lot of interesting projects, and work with people from whom I can really gain a lot of experience within the professional world. I want to stay, build a career, and contribute to the development of an organization.”

His ultimate goal is to have a leadership position at a nonprofit or mission in the same region where he lives now. “I have no problem starting at the bottom and working my way up,” he said. “Someday I would like to have the means to help people, the same way I had people help me.”

As his undergraduate career draws to a close, Steevenson asks for your prayers. “I would like you to pray I would always stay at the feet of God, that He gives me more wisdom and intelligence in all I do, and helps me find work when I finish university because work is not easy to find in the country of Haiti. Pray that I can work to meet my needs. Also help me pray for a way to earn my masters in finance.”

He is filled with gratitude for all of you who have supported the scholarship fund through the years to make his degree possible.

“Even with the difficulties the coronavirus has brought,” Steevenson said, “you haven’t been discouraged and have continued to help me in college. I was so worried about that, I thought the scholarship would be stopped. Thank you so much for your support. I will always pray for God to bless you and help you. I thank you infinitely.”

We look forward to sharing more updates from Steevenson as he graduates this summer and begins his job search, and we also ask for your help. The scholarship fund is only 10% funded for this year—please consider making a gift to help Steevenson and 8 other scholars earn their college degrees.

Kristi Bucher has served as Communications Manager for Jesus in Haiti Ministries since 2014. She currently lives in Minnesota with her husband, Nathan, and two kids. Kristi and Nathan lived in Haiti from 2012–2014.