College Bound!

Davion Talbert is ready, set to tackle college in the fall

While National Signing Day is a momentous day for all high school athletes, for Davion Talbert the day was another important step in building the life that – prior to coming to Hephzibah – he never knew was even a possibility for him. On February 1, Davion, a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School, declared his intention to play Division II football at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO, making him the first person in his biological family to go to college.

Davion came to Hephzibah at age 8, and his achievement is no surprise to staff.  “Davion is amazing,” recalls Reena Hilton, supervisor in the Diagnostic Treatment Center. “He has incredible resilience and he overcame so much. I will always remember how his jokes and songs made the days brighter.”

Davion Talbert will play Division II football at Lincoln University!

From Hephzibah, Davion transitioned to foster care joining the family of Gail and David Hibbler of Oak Park, a long-time Hephzibah foster care family. Gail also serves as a PRIDE trainer for individuals interested in becoming foster parents through Hephzibah. Two years ago, the Hibbler’s were awarded guardianship for Davion.

“At the group home and upon coming to us, Davion began to see things for himself,” Gail says. “He worked really hard and he advocated for himself.”

With great pride, Gail illustrates her point recounting a time about five years ago when the family was attending their daughter’s college graduation. “During the ceremony, Davion leaned over to David and said ‘Dad, do you think I can do this someday?’”

Davion remembers the exact moment when he decided football would be in his future. “I was playing catch with Pete (Davion’s primary Hephzibah staff member) and I told him I wanted to play football.” After settling in with the Hibbler family, he signed up for the Little Huskies football program.

Though his successful career as a wide receiver with the Huskies football team kept him very busy, Davion also made time to volunteer for a number of projects and activities at school and he was a youth mentor at Hephzibah and junior counselor at Sibling Camp.

It is his talent on the field however that captured the attention of the Lincoln University coaches, and they offered him a scholarship. A visit to the campus sealed his decision.

“It felt like home and the coaches were all excited for me to be there,” Davion says. “They believe in me and said ‘we graduate successful young men,’ which is important to me. I know I can really learn a lot from the coaching staff.”

At Lincoln, Davion is considering pursuing studies in civil engineering, “I like designing things and I like critical thinking,” he says. But first, with just a few weeks remaining in his senior year at OPRF, Davion is busy preparing for prom, finals and graduation.  ”Who I am now reflects a lot of my experience at Hephzibah,” Davion concludes. “I remember Reena saying to me ‘Don’t look at the world through other people’s lives.’ That really stuck with me.”

And just as Hephzibah has had an impact on Davion, his impact on Hephzibah will be felt long into the future. Reena says, “Davion is a role model and his story is going to teach future children who come to Hephzibah that they can be powerful and resilient like him. They can succeed like he has.”

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