The Kevon DeAndra Wheeler Award is a scholarship that has been created in remembrance of UWG alumnus Kevon Wheeler. The scholarship was started through his family as a part of the African-American Male Initiative (AAMI), a first-year program for freshmen, to help continue Kevon’s legacy and support of future UWG students.
Kevon graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminology and passed away in 2018. The Kevon DeAndra Wheeler Award is given to a student who is a part of the AAMI program and demonstrates volunteer services in tutoring, mentoring and coaching.
UWG was one of the leading institutions to create an AAMI program in the state of Georgia. AAMI has been established at UWG since 2002, and since has been an important aspect of the retention, progression and graduation of African-American male students at UWG, according to the program’s mission statement.
“We match funds that are provided by USG that are intended to provide programming that centers on academic excellence, support services, peer and professional mentoring, professional development and cultural enrichment targeting students who are African-American male,” said Dr. Michael Hester who serves as the Coordinator of AAMI.
AAMI was originally created as a first-year program for incoming freshmen. The program allowed students to attend core academic classes together as a cohort to create friendships, establish study partners and develop positive connections with faculty. AAMI was recently expanded to include not only the first-year experience but opportunities for sophomores, juniors and seniors that allows a continuation of learning and opportunities within AAMI.
“UWG was approached by the family of Kevon Wheeler two years ago and they wanted to create a scholarship in his memory,” said Hester. “He had been a student at UWG and he had participated in the organization Black Men with Initiative which is a program affiliated with AAMI.
“Kevon’s parents were interested in setting up a scholarship in his memory that would be awarded to a student who participates in the AAMI and the $500 scholarship was created,” continued Hester. “The scholarship is intended to go to an AAMI student who is engaged on campus, while maintaining high academics and serving others. What we view this award as is our top scholarship going towards our top student.”
The scholarship has been awarded to two students within AAMI since it began in 2018. The first recipient was Quintibius Johnson, an art major, who graduated magna cum laude in 2020. This year’s recipient was Travious Couch, a sports management major, who will be graduating cum laude this spring.
AAMI is extremely grateful for the Wheeler family’s support and contribution to the AAMI program and its students to continue to help continue the work Kevon had started.
“We will most likely continue to recognize juniors and seniors who have proven through years of success here at West Georgia that they are explementary when it comes to showcasing the characteristics that AAMI is looking for,” says Hester. “These are students who are both academically successful, engaged on campus and giving back to their communities.”