Living Luke’s challenge

Published 12:41 am Saturday, May 19, 2012

Altruism, the opposite of selfishness, is not a quality often associated with a teenager or a college student. So I was intrigued when I heard this week about the AHS Class of 2009 Memorial Scholarship.

“My senior year, I just decided to give a scholarship in memory of Mrs. Mable Beamon,” Stephen Darby said.

Mrs. Beamon had helped care for Stephen and his older sister.

“She was important to me and to my friends,” he said. “She pretty much watched over us.”

His mom helped him fund the first scholarship, and applicants were required to write an essay on how they planned to change the world.

That year, the scholarship went to Stephen’s classmate, Jeffery Moore.

Every year since, Stephen has funded the scholarship with extra scholarship money he’s earned.

The scholarship has since been changed to the Class of 2009 Memorial Scholarship, and encompasses not just Mrs. Beamon, but also family members of Stephen’s classmates, among them Monica Chambers, the late mother of ’09 valedictorian D’Amber Chambers; Mamie Johnson, Nico’s mom; Greg McCord, father of Jay McCord; Tyler Moody’s parents, Angela and Don Moody; and James Mo’s mother.

Kanesha Leslie won the scholarship in 2010; and Nico Johnson presented it to Stephanie Marvin in 2011. Yesterday, Stephen was on the stage again, and presented the scholarship to Hunter Albritton, who’s headed for the University of Texas at Austin.

“She wrote a brilliant paper,” Stephen said. “She wrote a lot about fairness and equality. She talked about she wanted to be a wave of change.”

Each year, Stephen enlists help in judging the essays and selecting the scholarship recipient.

“It’s never just been me judging it,” he said.

Stephen, the son of David and Laura Darby, will graduate from Auburn University in December with a double major in political science and economics. He plans to pursue a career in law, and hopes to attend law school in Virginia, or any other of the top 14 law schools.

“I’d like to work if I could in a big law firm for a couple of years,” he said. “Then, I’d really like to do a lot of pro bono work for people who can’t afford adequate representation.”

Why does this college student think it’s important to help his peers?

“I think it’s always important to give back, to live your life in Luke’s challenge – ‘to whom much is given, much is expected,’ ” he said. “A lot of people don’t have the funds, not just for tuition, but for flat-out living expenses, rent, or basic necessities like food.”

Stephen is wise beyond his almost-21 years, and sets an example we all would do well to follow.