Mr. Wesley’s thoughtful perspective and courageous life pursuits show wisdom, empathy and ambition. He already recognizes that choosing an institution of higher learning — and a career — is about reaching for and achieving more, regardless of what obstacles come his way.
Demarieh is a freshman and student athlete at the elite Hampton University, a dynamic and progressive HBCU (Historically Black College or University) that was founded in Virginia in 1868.
It had everything he was looking for, foremost the promise of a great education in his chosen field of sports management.
“My aunt went to Hampton, and just the history that Hampton University has behind it being one of the top five HBCUs in the country, it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Demarieh says. Though he’s still in Texas studying online for now, he’s excited to move to the Virginia campus when virus safety measures allow. “It’s a beautiful location, right on the water.”
Hampton also offered him a partial scholarship in lacrosse, the sport that requires both situational intelligence and athletic ability that he’s grown to love since he discovered it in sixth grade. Demarieh has always enjoyed learning and competing in all sports, but lacrosse offered a new challenge.
“I was always an athlete, always doing something. I played football, basketball, tried out for the baseball team. I’ve always been around sports. Even if I don’t know about it, I’ll watch it just to see. Lacrosse was new to me. That’s actually one of the reasons I fell in love with the sport.”
It wasn’t difficult for him to decide what major to pursue.
“I’ve just got a real passion for sports,” Demarieh says. “I’ve played my whole life, so I just looked at it like, I want to do a job that I know I’m going to love to do for a long time, and I won’t have a problem waking up in the morning going to it.”
He is also motivated to help others, volunteering for the North Texas Food Bank, church events, Bonton Farms and coaching young lacrosse athletes through his high school years, and he knows that his success will allow him to do more. “I like to give back, I’m a giving person,” he says. “I look forward to when I’m in that position where I can give back in different ways along the way.”
Mr. Wesley was awarded the Opportunity Rising Foundation Chairman of the Board scholarship, awarded to scholars who exhibit academic excellence, high self-esteem, outstanding leadership and community responsibility.
He applied for the scholarship as the essay topic resonated so much with him. “I was pretty excited when they called my name. I was like, did I win?!”
“I feel like the person who receives an Opportunity Rising scholarship should deserve it, not just because of their essay but because of their character. And that you feel in your heart that that person is going to do the right thing with that scholarship money. I thank them for that.”
He graduated in May from Skyline Magnet High School and wrote a moving scholarship application essay on the topic of COVID-19 that expressed the universal disappointment of many in his senior class of 2020. He missed out on much of what he had earned through his high school career, including a National Honor Society banquet, his senior year lacrosse season, even the ceremony of a traditional graduation. He lost a job that helped him gain independence, though soon found another position. His aunt, who worked for a nursing home, tested positive for the virus, though recovered quickly.
“It was a lot to take in,” he says. “I had to realize that I can’t let that affect me and my goals in life, what I want to accomplish.”
The pandemic has taught him to stop and consider what he’s grateful for and never take anything for granted. His family is what brings meaning and purpose to his life, and his disappointing experiences with the virus taught him how to persevere through obstacles.
“I feel I have something on my shoulders,” Demarieh says. “My mom, she didn’t finish college and my sister went and didn’t finish. Everyone in my family has such high hopes for me and my future. I just feel I can’t fail. I just feel I have to do this for them and myself, too.”