Photo Caption: Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation presents the 2023 top PEP applicant from Portland, Avianna Stephens, with a certificate during the JN Foundation’s PEP Scholarship Awards held at the Summit in New Kingston on November 12.

Many people who are artistically inclined often find solace in creating art to express their emotions. For Avianna Stephens, past student of Fruitful Vale Primary School and 2023 JN Scholar for the parish of Portland, it’s simply “relaxing.”

Avianna already has a collection of paintings and drawings which she completed with the support of family members who provided her with the tools she needed to explore her interest. Although she has kept them confined to the walls of her home, she said creating art helps her to decompress from school life.

“I just like to do it and I love learning how to create new designs,” the quiet and reserved teen shared.

Avianna’s PEP score of 317.6 landed her a place at Titchfield High School in Portland. It was her school of choice, as she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her parents who also attended the institution. This achievement presented her the opportunity for a 5-year scholarship from the JN Foundation, for which she is grateful.

“I’m just really happy I was selected to be one of this year’s recipients,” she said while noting that she had expected to do well in her exams, as she had put in the work and was usually among the top performers at school.

“I was always getting the highest grade in primary school, so I was not really surprised,” she said.

Avianna’s mother, Monique Davidson, said she was overjoyed at her daughter’s results, as she had been helping her to prepare for the exam since grade four. She also expressed gratitude to the JN Foundation for the scholarship, which she said is testament to her daughter’s work ethic.

“Getting the scholarship is really something that I wanted for my daughter, so she could see for herself that she has done well,” said Ms Davidson, a baker who runs her own business.

“To her the exam was no big deal and when I asked her how it was, she just said it was OK. She didn’t seem worried or excited. I cried when I found out that she got the highest PEP score in the school,” her mom recalled.

Avianna’s performance also made her father, Delon Stephens, proud. Mr Stephens, a library assistant, transports his daughter to and from school daily.

“It’s a great feeling to know she achieved all that and I expected her to do well in the exams. She’s always serious about school and I will continue to encourage her to do her best,” he said.

An abstract painting created by Avianna Stephens

Even Avianna’s aunt, Aakiela Gordon, is beaming with pride. Ms Gordon, who played a major part in her exam preparations, noted that: “I am extremely proud of her. She is different, she is a good child and I love her as my own.”

Although Avianna projects an introverted personality, she maintains a strong interest in social activities. Besides her love for art, she is also passionate about reading and has a keen interest in history. She loves it so much, she’s been pushing her parents to visit more heritage sites across the country. One of the sites that Avianna has already ticked off her list is the Rose Hall Great House in Montego Bay, St James.

“She’ll inquire about my weekend plans then ask if we can visit a particular place that she would have seen or heard about somewhere. She has been doing her own research on different places to learn about their significance and what life was possibly like at these places years ago,” her mom explained.

Her strengths also go beyond the humanities. Her mother said financial independence is also important to Avianna who is a habitual saver. She informed that she brings home large portions of her lunch allowance and keeps a record of the unused funds.

“I’m happy with the way that she is, she’s very respectable and she’s humble. Sometimes our family may run into difficulty and can’t get what we want or need but she’s very understanding where that is concerned,” Ms Davidson added.

A big sister to two younger siblings, Avianna admitted that she has tried to influence them to get involved in her hobbies but conceded that “they have their own thing.”

While she’s undecided about what career path she’d like to pursue in the future, she said she is actively considering art-related fields, including graphic design.

But whatever Avianna decides, Ms Davidson said, she will be able to count on the support of her family. She is looking forward to what Avianna will accomplish as she gets settled in high school and explores the options available to her.

Was this article helpful?