One year ago, Stephen Winder Jackson, then valedictorian at Western High School in D.C., suffered a powerful blow to his pride. He was rejected for admission by George Washington University, the school he most wanted to attend.
On the basis of Jackson's extremely low Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, the GW admissions office concluded that he could not complete successfully the school's courses of study. Of a possible 800 score on each SAT. Jackson totaled 320 in verbal and 280 in mathematics.
Jackson's second choice was Howard University, which accepted him. Although he planned to major in accounting, Howard officials required him to complete successfully one year of liberal arts study before admitting him to the school of business.
The reception accorded Jackson last year was not one a valedictorian might expect, especially from hometown colleges. The hurt showed on Jackson's face when he discussed the situation at his home at 2460 Ontario Rd. N.W. last year.
Jackson, now 19, is not one to feel sorry for himself long or to be discouraged by such a setback. He has just completed the year of liberal arts study at Howard where he maintained a B average and earned the right to enroll in the business school next September.
Jackson's professors at Howard say he was an extremely hard worker and a fair-to-excellent student, depending on the course involved.
His Spanish teacher, Ivadnia Scott-Cora, said, "He did beautifully. His performance was A all the time."
Rudolph Brathwaite, who taught Jackson's English survey course, said Jackson "has done fairly well." Brathwaite said Jackson probably ranked among the top half of all Howard students.
According to Dr. Walter B. Hope, who taught Jackson geography. "He was able to prepare adequately for his final exam" despite missing two weeks while ill.
Vallayil G. Kurian, who taught Jackson social science, said, "I remember him very distinctly. He was very diligent, industrious and responsible. I consider him as somewhat outstanding in terms of his ability to discuss things in the classroom."
Jackson's successful year at Howard is all the more remarkable because he carried an additional load of remedical courses and extracurricular activities.
Aside from the regular mathematics and English courses, he took what are known as academic reinforcement courses in those subjects and in learning, or study, skills. He also is taking a course in algebra and calculus with a private organization in Arlington called Educational Consultants.
In addition, Jackson is a Jehovah's Witness and attends five one-hour meetings each week. He also teaches three hours of Bible lessons each week and spends "upwards of 15 to 20 hours a month" in a "door-to-door ministry" for the sect.
Last year, Jackson said he thought his study schedule of 3 to 3 1/2 hours a day, to which he adhered throughout high school, would be adequate for college. He has learned otherwise.
"College is far more intense than high school," he said. "On the average, I put in 5 to 6 hours a day of out-of-class study. I always keep in mind that I have the responsibility to understand my work."
Despite his crowded schedule, Jackson finds time for outside reading. His current favorite is the 17th-century English poet John Dryden.
Jackson said he found the reinforcement courses very helpful in improving his basic skills. He said his reading speed has increased from between 350 and 400 words per minute to about 750 words per minute.
Jackson said he thought similar courses would be very helpful in high schools, but the refused to hold Western responsible for a high school education that he acknowledges was not as good as possible.
"I still don't have any regrets about my education in D.C. public schools," he said. "I always understood that there was a slight deficiency in some of my classes, but I took the responsibility upon myself to see that it was corrected."
After The Port first published a story about Jackson last August, he received a great deal of media attention. He also received dozens of letters and telephone calls from persons who wanted to wish him well and lend moral support. He wants to thank them all.