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Announcing the Winner of the 2021 Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship

Xavier Nelson selected to receive four years of Upper School tuition.
Next fall, the Upper School will welcome a new Debbie Robson Scholarship recipient on campus: Xavier Nelson!

Xavier will enter Steward as a ninth grader and is ready to make his mark as a Spartan after accepting the award, which offers four years of full tuition in the Upper School. He is currently enrolled at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, where he is an active participant in all facets of community life.

"It's truly an honor knowing how great Debbie Robson was as a person and what she did for the Steward community," Xavier said after learning he was named the 2021 Debbie Robson Merit Scholar. "It's great to try to honor her legacy as best as I can."

Xavier's Debbie Robson Scholarship application, which included a glowing letter of recommendation, detailed his many academic, athletic, and extracurricular interests and achievements. Among them, he received the first-ever "Superstar" award from his previous school's teachers and administrators for his strong work ethic, as well as winning a financial literacy contest focused on how youth can save and manage money. His high academic honors in Middle School impressed the scholarship committee and demonstrate his commitment to academic success that will no doubt continue in Steward's Upper School.

Outside of academics, Xavier's athletic record is similarly prosperous. He captained both his traveling flag football team — which nominated him for several MVP awards — and his school's basketball team. He's also a member of the Amateur Athletic Union for basketball, has played on his school's soccer team, and expresses interest in joining the cross country team. Did we mention Xavier has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do?
Xavier has an artistic flair, too. One of his big goals for himself is to learn how to play ukulele, an instrument that has always fascinated him. And though Xavier appreciates many forms of visual art, more often than not he turns to drawing. In fact, one of his illustrations was chosen as a finalist for his school's yearbook cover. 

Xavier's passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) features prominently in his academic and extracurricular pursuits. He is an active participant in his school's robotics team, and holds membership in the Richmond Junior Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers. As a participant in Virginia Tech's STEM Pre-College Initiative Program, he conducts hands-on experiments while learning about future careers in STEM. Xavier has also taken to the sky as a member of the US Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) Young Eagles flight program, through which he received introductory flight lessons.

Despite participating in so many activities, Xavier still finds time to give back to the community. For the past several years, Xavier has volunteered his time to the Chesterfield Food Bank helping with event setup and food distribution, as well as working with Full Circle Grief Center, where he collects words and facial expressions from magazines to help participants express their emotions during counseling sessions. Additionally, he's gotten his hands messy volunteering with two other organizations: the James River Advisory Council, assisting them at several locations with cleaning up the James River, and the Children's Museum of Richmond, where he spends time in the art area helping visitors express their artistic vision.

"I'm always trying to get involved in the community any way I can," Xavier said.
In his letter of recommendation, one of Xavier's former coaches praised Xavier for his maturity and humility, adding that he is "continually taken aback by the grace and character by which [Xavier] carries himself."

"He is in a perpetual cycle of bettering himself and the lives of those around him in a way that is contagious," the writer added. "He is relentless in his pursuit of excellence for both himself and others. He is a boon to his community. It is amazing to watch."

This is the seventh year that Steward has awarded the Debbie Robson Merit Scholarship, which is named in honor of Debbie Robson, associate head of school for community advancement, who passed away in 2014. The scholarship provides four years of full Upper School tuition for a rising ninth grader who is new to Steward. Recipients are chosen on the basis of academic distinction and extracurricular involvement in areas such as athletics, arts, innovation, or community service. Past recipients include:

  • Ana Reveles Leon '24 (2020)
  • Bella Topich '23 (2019)
  • Lucia Fogler '22 and Alaina Jefferson '22 (2018)
  • Jack Morgan '21 and Nicole Odibo '21 (2017)
  • Matthew Cantor '20 and Sonali Sanjay '20 (2016)
  • Morgan King '19 and Aayush Lalwaney '19 (2015)

Welcome to Steward, Xavier! We look forward to all the great things ahead of you as a member of the Spartan community.


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