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The Harvard Crimson's Coverage of the Scholarship

Award Honors Black Students

New scholarship launched in memory of two students killed in car accident

Published on April 16, 2007

Ten years ago, a tragic car accident cut short the lives of then-juniors Deshaun R. Hill ’99 and Harvard C. N. Stephens ’99. Some members of the Class of 1999 and their families launched a scholarship today to honor their memory and contributions as undergraduates.

The Deshaun Hill and Harvard Stephens Scholarship will award two $500 grants to Harvard students who share similar backgrounds to the former students. Black sophomores and juniors, particularly those concentrating in mathematics or the sciences, are eligible, and dedication to community service and financial need will also be considered during the selection process.

Taj J. Clayton ’99, who was a blockmate of both Hill and Stephens, said these factors reflect the backgrounds and values that the men shared.

“They were two African-Americans who concentrated in technical disciplines, and they were both profoundly committed to community service and the plight of the disadvantaged,” said Clayton, who is also director of outreach for the non-profit organization created to sponsor the scholarship.

Various former classmates as well as the parents of Hill and Stephens donated their time or money to the establishment of the award, according to scholarship director Alex P. Kellogg ’99, who was a close friend of Hill and Stephens.

“This was an idea that I know was in my son’s heart, and I’m so happy to see it being fulfilled, ” said Barbara Nabrit-Stephens ’72, the mother of Stephens and an advisor to the non-profit. She added that while he was alive, her son often spoke about his plans to establish a scholarship for African-Americans at Harvard.

President of the Black Men’s Forum Charles J. Hamilton III ’07 said the scholarship is a unique opportunity for black students.

“I truly believe that this is a meaningful addition, particularly in that it focuses on promoting the success of African-Americans within math and science—concentrations which have historically not been home to many in Harvard’s black community,” Hamilton said of the scholarship.

The award is one of the few outside scholarships at Harvard that targets black students as its recipients, according to Kellogg.

The deadline to apply for the scholarship is June 1.


The Tennessean Article

H.C.N. Stephens, 19, Student at Harvard, Services Wednesday

Published on July 10, 1997

Services will be held Wednesday for Mr. Harvard Clarence Nabrit Stephens, 19, of Brentwood, the first student at Martin Luther King Magnet School to attend Harvard University.

Mr. Stephens was killed in a traffic accident Thursday near Salinas, Calif. He had flown from Redmond, Wash. to Los Angeles, and he, a classmate and a friend of the classmate’s left the airport to visit Mr. Stephens’ uncle for the July 4 weekend when the crash occurred.

The classmate was killed also, and the other person was badly injured and hospitalized.

The occasion for his trip was to take a break from his second summer internship at Microsoft in Redmond.

The funeral is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Progressive Baptist Church after an hour of visitation there. The Rev. Bernard F. Lafayette Jr. will officiate. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery. J.W. Adkins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Stephens was a junior majoring in computer science at Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. While at Harvard, he taught computer skills to children from low-income families. He had been obsessed with computers since he was 4 years old.

He was born in New York City but spent most his childhood in Nashville. He was a son of Drs. Harvard William and Barbara Anne Nabrit-Stephens of Brentwood.

“He achieved very much academically and professionally in a short period of time, but his greatest asset was his love and care for friends, family and people in general,” his father said today.

Mr. Stephens was a 1995 graduate of Martin Luther King Magnet School, where he was the first president of his class in the academic year 1989-90, the first student to be a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship competition and the first student to win the National Achievement Scholarship.

He also worked at Opryland and Pizza Hut while in the magnet school.

Survivors besides his parents include two sisters, Nia C. Stephens and Yakini A. Stephens, both of Brentwood; a brother, Marcus N. Stephens of Nashville; his maternal grandparents, the Rev. H. Clark and Vernice Nabrit of Nashville; and a great-grandmother, Eula Smith of Brentwood.

The Harvard Crimson's Coverage of the Memorial

Schoolmates Grieve Loss of Two Friends
Deshaun Hill, Harvard Stephens Honored in Service

Published on October 20, 1997


The Harvard Crimson's Coverage of the Accident

Harvard Students Die in Car Accident

Published on July 11, 1997

The lives of two promising Harvard undergraduates, Deshaun R. Hill '99 and Harvard C. Nabrit Stephens '99, ended suddenly last Thursday during a traffic accident in Monterey Country, Calif. The Adams House rising-juniors were 20 and 19 respectively.

Hill was driving a 1997 Ford Mustang at around 5:30 p.m. when he lost control of the vehicle and crossed into the opposing lane, according to a California Highway Patrol report. Moments later, a 1991 Plymouth Voyager broadsided the Ford, causing it to overturn and then right itself.

Three other cars were involved in the resulting accident; Hill and Stephens, in the front passenger seat of the Ford, suffered the only fatal injuries. Brenton Guy, a sophomore computer science and engineering student at the University of California at Davis who was riding in the rear right passenger seat of the vehicle, sustained major injuries.

None of the three young men were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the report.

According to the victims' parents, the two friends were on their way to Los Angeles for the Fourth of July weekend. Stephens, working for Microsoft this summer, took a flight from Seattle to California to meet up with Hill, who was employed by Intel.

Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said the young men made "substantial contributions to the College and will be greatly missed."

Hill and Stephens had developed a tight network of friends in their two years at the College, according to Joseph R. Winters '99. Winters was in Nashville on Wednesday and flew to Milwaukee yesterday for the victims' funerals.

Winters met Hill on Pre-Frosh weekend and Stephens during Freshman Week. Hill, Stephens, Winters and a core group of others have been close friends ever since.

Winters noted that Hill and Stephens were friends during their first years, but being in the same blocking group this past year really solidified their relationship.

"[Deshaun] and Harvard became really good friends. They were in many of the same classes, and they liked to hang out together," Winters said. Winters was going to room with Hill next year in Claverly.

"Deshaun was really funny-we called him 'the dirty old man'--he always made us laugh," Winters said.

But, according to Winters, Hill had a very intense side. On the intramural basketball court or while doing homework, Hill was serious about the task at hand.

Mary Ann Hill said her son was both "happy-go-lucky" and a "perfectionist."

Although he was interested in "everything," Hill had his priorities straight, his mother said.

"Christ was first in his life," she said. "Education was second."

Hill, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisc., was an engineering sciences concentrator at Harvard and was valedictorian of his graduating class at Rufus King High School in Milwaukee.

"I can't say enough good about him," said Andrew Meuler, assistant principal of Rufus King High. "He was an outstanding student and student leader."

Peers also noted Hill's commitment to academics.

Dionne A. Fraser '99, president of the Black Students Association (BSA), said Deshaun was probably "the greatest student who ever went to Harvard."

"Deshaun was extremely brilliant," said Dahni-El Giles '99. "Both were extremely compassionate and honest gentlemen-the cornerstone of their blocking group."

Funeral services for Deshaun Hill will take place at 10 a.m. today at the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Milwaukee.

Hill's friends have established a fund at Firstar Bank to help defray the cost of the funeral. Officials as the bank said donations may be made at any Firstar branch in Wisconsin.

Over 500 people were in attendance at the Wednesday funeral services for Harvard Stephens, including about ten students form the College.

According to Winters, Harvard's high school and college classmates had a chance to meet one another and reminisce about their mutual friend.

"We sat around talking, looking at baby pictures," Winters said. "We're trying to get through this together."

Two thousand miles away, almost 100 Microsoft employees crowded into a company memorial service held concurrently with the Tennessee funeral.

A computer science concentrator, Stephens was spending his summer at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, Wash.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Dr. Samella W. Junior-Spence, now-retired principal of the Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet School in Nashville, spoke of Stephens' "high moral character," nothing that he was a marvelous student, a caring sibling and a devoted friend.

When Dr. Junior-Spence asked seventh-grade Stephens why his name was Harvard, he replied, "that's where I'm going to school."

Dr. Barbara A. Nabrit-Stephens said she and her husband, Dr. Harvard W. Stephens, always gave their children the freedom to decide where they were going to college, "so long as they were going somewhere."

According to family and friends, Harvard actually considered many colleges' offers--including those from Georgia Tech and Duke--before choosing the university in Cambridge, Mass. that shares his name.

Harvard University proved to be the right decision for Harvard Stephens. Dr. Nabrit-Stephens said her son "was very satisfied" at the College, and he appreciated the challenges he boldly faced.

While at the College, Stephens volunteered in Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) Fresh Pond Enrichment program, where he taught Windows 95 and an Internet-related curriculum to disadvantaged students.

Harvard "worked very hard" and "loved his friends," said Brandon Watson, Stephens' colleague at Microsoft in Wash.

Friends agreed, saying Harvard was a warm and accommodating classmate.

"His door was always open-for partying and for studying," Fraser said.

She also said Stephens' first-year residence in Hollis Hall was the "epicenter of social activity."

Fraser said she and Epps discussed plans for a memorial for Harvard and Deshaun--perhaps a plaque outside Hollis.

While at Microsoft this summer, Stephens planned to solicit Bill Gates for computer donations for his PBHA students.

Harvard's parents hope to establish a scholarship fund at the University in their son's memory. Friends may offer contributions through the Sun Trust Bank in Nashville.

Stephens was also a member of the BSA, the Black Men's Forum (BMF) and the Spee Club.

Dr. Nabrit-Stephens said her other three children "idolized" their brother. Harvard's sister Nia C. Stephens '01 has matriculated at the College.

According to Dr. Nabrit-Stephens, her son wanted to earn his MBA and work for McKinsey after graduation.

"No one had a brighter future ahead of them that Harvard and Dehaun," Fraser said.

Remembering Harvard

The following tribute was written and read by Harvard's sister, Nia, at a campus memorial service for Deshaun and Harvard.

Harvard Clarence Nabrit Stephens was born in New York City on the blazing day August 23, 1977, the first child of young doctors, Harvard William and Barbara Anne Nabrit-Stephens. Soon after the birth of his first sister, Nia Charlotte, the growing family moved to New Jersey, then on to Gadsden, Alabama, where the Stephens’ second daughter, Yakini Anne, was born. There young Harvard began his sterling academic career.

In a few years the family moved on to Tennessee, where Harvard’s only beloved brother Marcus was born. Harvard matriculated through the Nashville school system, an honor student at all levels. He was the first of the Stephens children to attend Martin Luther King Junior Magnet School for Health Sciences and Engineering, a first among many firsts. He was his class’ first president, in the academic year 1989-1990. He was the first student from MLK to be a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Competition and win the National Achievement Scholarship. When he graduated in 1995, he became the first student from MLK to attend Harvard University.

Harvard was an honored participant in several organizations. He was a member of the student council throughout high school. While in high school, he led the Black History Quiz Bowl and the wrestling team to victory. In college, he was the president of Boston’s Black Scientists and Engineers, and a prominent member of Harvard University’s Black Student Union. Harvard taught Vacation Bible School when he was in high school; Harvard taught computer skills to under-privileged children in a Boston Middle School while attending Harvard. He joined Progressive Baptist Church in the summer of 1994, and remained a member until his death, July 3, 1997.

Harvard Stephens will be remembered not only by his loving parents, sisters, and brother, but by his grandparents, Henry and Veronica Nabrit, his great-grandmother, Lula B. Smith, his aunts, uncles, and cousins, and by all who knew him: his friends, teachers and students.

Jack London once said that he would rather be a fiery comet, blazing brightly in the heavens for but a short time, than a dull and dreary planet circling the cosmos for eternity. Nonetheless, London lived twice as long as Harvard, one of the brightest lights in the lives of those that knew him. London did not know at the time, but comets continue to exist after they disappear. They seem short lived to those on Earth, as they visit rarely and only for a short time. But their observers should be comforted that somewhere in the universe, their comet continues to blaze.

Harvard leaves to cherish his memory: parents, Drs. Harvard W. and Barbara Nabrit-Stephens; sisters, Nia C. and Yakini A. Stephens; brother, Marcus N. Stephens; grandparents Dr. and Mrs. H. Clark Nabrit and the late Mr. and Mrs. Harmon A. Stephens; great-grandmother, Lula B. Smith; an aunt, Mrs. Ollie S. Woods, Atlanta, GA; uncles, Presley W. (Della) Stephens, Newall, AL, Willie A. Stephens, Tuskegee, AL, James F. Stephens, Atlanta, GA, Charles M. (Paula P.) Nabrit, Westerville, OH and Henry C. Nabrit, Los Angeles, CA; great aunts, Mrs. Cecelia Adkins, Mrs. Lois Clark and Mrs. Gertrude Thomas; and many other relatives and friends.