Evon A. Thompson

Hometown – Orlando, FL
Undergrad – Harvard College
Major/Academic Interest – Neuroscience

As a child, Evon spent his early years in the rural community of Red Ground, Jamaica. Growing up with limited resources, Evon recognized the importance of education in escaping poverty and improving his community. He understood that education was the engine of upward mobility in a country enduring the ramifications of colonialism and new threats of neocolonialism. From an early age, Evon’s mother encouraged him to avoid the path of least resistance. She holds that “shortcuts draw blood and the long road draws sweat.” In other words, anything worthwhile comes through hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance.

At age 13, Evon and his mother immigrated to the United States in pursuit of better educational and economic opportunities in 2016. Contrary to his perceptions of widespread prosperity and wealth, Evon encountered a community suffering from similar conditions of neglect and poverty in the US. While this reshaped his view on the American Dream, Evon would not allow his reality to deter him from achieving his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon. However, everything changed when doctors diagnosed his mother with cancer just months after transitioning. Shortly after, Evon feared that his mother would pass away without witnessing his accomplishments for which she sacrificed. To alleviate his fears, Evon turned to Dub poetry and initiated a poetry club at his school to provide others with a space to freely express themselves. Dub poetry is a Jamaican style of poetry using Patois designed to provide a voice for impoverished Jamaicans in the 1970s. At the same time, his community offered support in meaningful ways. Throughout Evon’s time in the US, community has played a pivotal role in his growth from an introverted 13-year-old to a champion for his community.

In time, Evon developed a passion for community service, advocacy, and youth action to help revitalize a community that support its members during times of difficulty. For the past three years, Evon has served as president of the Student Leadership Council (SLC), a student-led division of the Evans Community School that strives to increase students and families’ awareness and utilization of resources offered by the community school. Through his involvement in SLC, Evon has been able to organize community projects and advocate for students’ needs, including increased access to on-campus health and wellness resources. This has led him to advocate for youth services on the local, state, and national levels. With the support of the Institute for Educational Leadership, Evon along with other youth leaders from around the country founded the Next Generation Coalition, a national alliance of youth leaders aiming to dismantle oppressive systems and rebuild sustainable, equitable communities, in 2019.

Evon abides by the motto “opportunity knocks but once.” For him, the opportunity to make a difference lies in the present. As he endeavors towards his goal of becoming a neurosurgeon, Evon hopes to achieve healthcare reforms in underserved communities and developing countries. No matter what the future holds, Evon plans to employ his knowledge and abilities in the service of community.