Talk Show Host and Former Kent State Student Steve Harvey Pays It Forward
Steve Harvey, producer, actor, author and former Kent State University student, is paying it forward by awarding eight of Kent State’s incoming freshmen with scholarships that will cover the total cost of attendance for each student, as well as highlighting the students on a segment of his show.
Mr. Harvey’s staff arranged for the students to fly to Los Angeles May 9 to tape his talk show “Steve,” which will air in the Cleveland area on June 26. Alfreda Brown, Ed.D., vice president of Kent State's Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and other Kent State staff accompanied the students to Los Angeles.
Five of the students who are receiving scholarships are participants in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound pre-college program, housed within the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). TRIO programs help students overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. Two of the students attend Ginn Academy in Cleveland, and one student, a mentee in the Steve Harvey Mentoring Program, is from Springdale, Maryland, near Washington D.C.
The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation is collaborating with Kent State to provide scholarships that will cover the total cost of attendance. All of the students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average for the scholarships to renew each semester.
The Steve & Marjorie Harvey Foundation is also making a financial commitment to Kent State’s Men Empowerment Network (M.E.N.) within the Student Multicultural Center. Mr. Harvey made that commitment to Michael Daniels, assistant director of the Student Multicultural Center and M.E.N. coordinator, during a special meeting on campus in April. Mr. Harvey reflected on the meeting during the taping of the show. M.E.N. supports the academic, personal, professional and social development of men of color at Kent State.
“In addition to the scholarships, DEI will provide ongoing support to the eight students to ensure their academic success,” Vice President Brown said. “Our division has a vested interest in all students; these eight young men will have no excuses with the help of our staff.”
The April meeting coincided with Mr. Harvey's visit to Kent State for the 50th anniversary of the Psi Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, where he pledged while a student.
The scholarships are in memory of Devin Moore, a Kent State student and member of the Psi Gamma Chapter who died in 2017 while playing basketball at Kent State's Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
After Mr. Moore’s death, Mrs. Williams and Debra Berry, university events and protocol director, became advisors to the Psi Gamma Chapter to help the students get through the tragedy. As a result, the Omega Psi Phi graduate/alumni chapter that oversees the Kent State student chapter reached out to Kent State to discuss the students’ well-being and asked the university to support the 50th anniversary celebration.
Mr. Harvey met with key members of university administration for lunch, and it was during this special meeting that he suggested and committed to providing scholarships to deserving students.
“Whenever we can, we find a way to change the lives of young people through scholarship programs we have come up with,” Mr. Harvey said after the meeting at Kent State. He added that the appearance on “Steve” and his social media platform will “really blow up the fact that Kent State has made an effort to reach out to some forgotten young people to change their lives through education. I’m more than happy to be a part of it.”
In addition to the Kent State segment of the show, graduate members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., some of whom were alumni of Kent State, will appear on the show to present Mr. Harvey with an award of appreciation for his service.
“I believe that Devin’s legacy lives on in the lives of the students who are being blessed to get a sound education here at Kent State,” Mrs. Williams said.
The following students will receive scholarships and appear on Mr. Harvey’s talk show on June 26:
Lamont Averett of Barberton, Ohio, is a participant in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound Classic Academy pre-college program. He is a graduate of Barberton High School and plans to pursue a major in history through Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences to enter the field of education. Janice Averett adopted Mr. Averett and his two sisters when they were young. As a single parent, she has committed her time to supporting their development.
Zethran Jackson of Akron, Ohio, is a participant in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound Classic Academy pre-college program. He is a graduate of Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron and plans to pursue a major in biology through Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences. Upon completion of further degrees, he intends to enter a role in which he can be an agent for change as a surgeon. Mr. Jackson’s academic successes, strong work ethic and passion to impact the lives of others are his motivation. He and his three siblings have grown up in a single-parent home supported by their mother, Malissa Jackson.
Mark Jenkins of Barberton, Ohio, is a participant in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound Math Science pre-college program. He is a graduate of Barberton High School and plans to pursue a major in criminal justice through Kent State’s College of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Jenkins was born in Akron, and he and his older sister, Dzyre, immediately entered the foster care system. At the age of three, his wonderful foster parents Kenzie and Deloise Jenkins adopted both him and his sister. He is currently participating in a two-year criminal science program that has had a significant impact on his interest in pursuing a criminal justice career.
Jaiden Morales of Lorain, Ohio, is a participant in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound Health Professions pre-college program. He is a graduate of Lorain High School. Mr. Morales has spent many years committing his time to volunteering in his school district and community while earning an associate degree, conferred at the same time as his high school diploma. He and his twin siblings have grown up in a single-parent home supported by their mother, Jennifer Morales.
Johnell Parnell of Akron, Ohio, is a participant in Kent State’s TRIO Upward Bound Classic Academy pre-college program. He is a graduate of Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron and plans to enter college as an exploratory student to provide himself the opportunity to identify a college major that will result in a career in which he can support others in reaching their full potential. In addition to obtaining a bachelor’s degree, Mr. Parnell’s dream is to start a family to show his children the love and support he always desired from a father. He has participated in athletics for many years, however he is a student first and an athlete second, earning many accolades in both. He has grown up in a single-parent home supported by his mother, Cheree Deck.
Kelvon Gibson of Cleveland, Ohio, is a graduate of Ginn Academy High School in Cleveland, where he was an honor roll student with a 3.2 grade point average. In college, Mr. Gibson would like to study athletic training due to his passion for sports and athletics. His hobbies are basketball, something he has enjoyed since first grade, and spending time with friends and family. “I went to Ginn Academy based on its academic and athletic reputation,” he said. “My education is important to me because I have plans for the future. I understand that without education, I wouldn’t make it very far. I am entirely thankful and truly blessed for this opportunity Steve Harvey has presented me with.” Mr. Gibson is the son of Renee Gibson.
Anthony Morris Jr. of Cleveland, Ohio, is a graduate of the Ginn Academy High School in Cleveland. Throughout his years at Ginn Academy, he was an athlete and a very successful scholar, achieving many accolades in his academic career. Mr. Morris has had the honor of receiving the title of valedictorian of the Class of 2019. His junior year, he became a member of a prestigious honors society, Phi Theta Kappa. Mr. Morris also received the Harvard Book Award at the Ivy League Book Prize ceremony that same year. Mr. Morris said he is most grateful for this amazing opportunity. “I value education because it provides you with endless opportunities to achieve your dreams,” he said. “Your education is what you make it, and it is up to you to shape your future. I will use education as tool to guide me to my dream of becoming a registered nurse.” Mr. Morris is the son of Anthony Morris Sr. and Roslyn L. Morris.
Craig Johnson of Springdale, Maryland, graduated from Charles Herbert Flowers High School with the Class of 2019. He will be attending Kent State in the fall as a finance major in the College of Business Administration. In his free time, Mr. Johnson enjoys running, playing games and hanging out with friends. He is the youngest child in a loving family who wants nothing but the best for him and supports him on his path for greatness. Mr. Johnson is the son of Reneen Johnson.