One winter day, as my mom, dad, sister and I were walking out of my sister’s dorm at Columbia in New York City, my mother noticed a homeless man sleeping on the street on top of a steam grate. We all saw him and were about to walk past when my mother stopped us and gave me 10 dollars to give to him. Initially I hesitated and said, “he’s sleeping I don’t want to wake him up”, but she countered, “Well then put it in his pocket.” (If you are familiar with any Nigerian parent, you know there is no talking back, let alone, questioning an elder. I was bold to even question her the first time. There was no way I was gong to question her again). So I walked over and did just that.
I mention this story because it has had such a lasting impact on me and demonstrates how she felt about helping others. She couldn’t walk past something she thought was wrong, sad, unfair, etc… Even most who we would consider generous would still walk past that guy, because his sleeping was a convenient excuse not to give him some change. I consider myself generous but even at that time, I still tried to keep going past him. Obviously that day changed the way I look at things of that nature. This memory exemplifies the qualities of my mom who passed away in the spring of 2012.
It’s just how my mother, Funmi Jegede, was wired. She donated money and time, here and abroad, to help those in need as often as she could. Additionally she was a mentor in both an official capacity and informally to many students and youth. As a huge proponent of education, she also sponsored many children to help them gain an education and our family would like to continue that tradition. Given her dedication to the cause of education for all children, it is only fitting to have a scholarship in her name. The “Funmi Jegede Scholarship” will be awarded to a deserving student who has shown potential and the willingness to learn at the next level, specifically in college; and also has demonstrated the ability to serve others. This is something I know she would appreciate as helping people was one of her many passions.
– Deji Jegede