by Moxye Staff
After applying for 35 college scholarships, Javondre Cole didn’t expect it would be a shoe box that would chaynge his life.
Last summer in a gymnasium filled with his cheering peers, Cole was handed a simple blue box emblazoned with the word “Wings.”
Inside the box was a certificate, signed by former UNC and NBA basketball star Michael Jordan, notifying Cole that he had been granted a full scholarship to the university of his choosing.
“I felt like I was in the starting lineup at a basketball game. There at the end of the tunnel was a box with my scholarship,” said Cole, now a freshman at Winston-Salem State University, who was granted the Jordan Brand’s Wings scholarship. “I couldn’t help but cry to have all the hard work I’d put in over the past four years finally recognized. It was a chance at a future.”
Cole was one of 26 students selected nationwide and the first-ever Jordan Brand’s Wings Scholar at Winston-Salem State University.
He was nominated for the scholarship and had to submit a video about representing authenticity, which was then viewed by Jordan and others on a committee made up of Nike and Jordan Brand employees.
The scholarship program, which began in 2015, aims to ease the financial burden for incoming college freshmen from disadvantaged areas.
“It’s a full-ride all four years. Everything is paid for except for the books,” said Cole, who is from Portland, Ore. “It was definitely a huge relief, like a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
In high school, Cole competed on the football, wrestling and baseball teams and was active in student government and school clubs, among many extra-curricular activities.
With the promise of a full-ride to any university, Cole began looking at schools where he felt that he could flourish.
“I really wanted to attend an HBCU on the East Coast,” Cole, 19, said, referring to historically black colleges and universities. “I narrowed it down to two to three, but I felt in my heart that Winston-Salem State was the perfect school for me to thrive.”
Cole, a sport management major, has already made waves at WSSU. He was part of a student team that took first place in a case-study competition at a statewide conference in November and he served as the master of ceremonies at WSSU’s Male Empowerment Summit last week.
“I want to do the same things that got me here and be looked upon as a leader,” Cole said. “This scholarship is definitely an honor and something I take pride in. A lot has changed since I got the box.”
The box — which felt light as air but was heavy with opportunity — has become one of Cole’s prized possessions and a symbol of his hard work.
It allowed him to go to an out-of-state university and will give him the tools to pursue a hoped-for career at Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, he said.
“This has changed my life significantly,” Cole said. “It’s given me opportunities I never imagined and set me on a path for greatness.”