Jovan McBride was within a week of graduating from Hazelwood Central High School when he found out that he had been awarded a $75,000 Dr. Donald M. Suggs Scholarship at Webster University, facilitated by the St. Louis American Foundation.
“I was jumping up and down with my dad,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I got the scholarship, and now I’m going to graduate. Everything’s working out. Yay!’”
He said his family’s support is vital to everything he has achieved. It was his mother who encouraged him to apply to Webster University.
“I loved the study abroad program they have, and how they make it affordable for students to actually study abroad if they want to,” McBride said. Right now, he is considering studying abroad in either London, Vienna, or Thailand.
Moving from Hazelwood Central to college has been a difficult adjustment for McBride, but he has learned to function in his new environment.
“I was so used to being in a high school setting, and I was used to going to class and having a strict schedule,” McBride said. “So when I got to college and things were changing – I didn’t have to go to class all the time, I had these big gaps – I didn’t know what to do with myself. Then I made some friends, and we decided to go to the library and study in between times, so that’s how I adjusted.”
McBride said that thinking about one of his favorite Bible verses, Jude 24-25, helped him through the hard times in his first semester: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence flawless and with great joy …”
“I was stressed, and then I read that scripture and I was like, ‘All right, I got this. Just breathe, relax.’ That’s something that’s kept me going.”
He is also inspired by memories of his grandmother and great-grandmother, both of whom told him he was going to do great things. His grandmother, who passed away right before he got his scholarship, always encouraged him, and he paid tribute to her in his senior portrait.
“Her favorite color is purple,” he said, “so I decided for my senior picture to wear a black suit with a purple shirt, to honor her.”
His parents’ struggles have also been an inspiration for McBride. Five years ago, his mother suffered a stroke, and seeing her work towards recovery changed McBride’s life.
“I had to take her to the hospital sometimes for therapy and for doctor’s visits,” he said. “From that, I was able to see her point of view as a stroke survivor, and also from the doctor’s point of view. That kind of taught me how to look at perspectives. To see her keep pushing, and going forward, that really encourages me to keep going in school.”
The ability to look at things from other people’s perspectives, which he learned while helping his mother recover from her stroke, also led McBride to his chosen career field. He is studying management with an emphasis on human resources.
“I wanted to go somewhere on a people route, because I didn’t want to be at my desk all the time.” He said. “So once I decided on that route, I was talking to my parents, and my mom said, ‘Why don’t you try human resources?’ So that’s how I’ve gotten here.”
McBride says his love for people will guide his career. “I really enjoy people,” he said. “I’m a people person. I love to talk to people. I love to see what’s wrong, how can I help.”