Scholarship Honors Love’s Special Bond

This Valentine’s Day, Dr. Passard Dean will be thinking of both his sweethearts.

His beloved wife, Karine, is the one he comes home to every day.

The other, Novlette, he still misses every day.

He remembers how beautiful she looked in her pink dress with the worn-out slippers – the only dressy outfit she owned.

She would always wear it when she visited him at his high school, and he would marvel at how she managed to get there, because she had no car and no money for a bus.

He remembers how she loved anyone and everyone and how she had a heart fit for a valentine. When she got married, it was to a man who already had a child—a child she didn’t hesitate to claim as her own.

And he remembers the moment in July 2017 when she passed away, not long after celebrating her 75th birthday.

Of the eight children she left behind, Passard was her third.

“My mom was like Dorcas, from the Bible, always taking care of others” says Dean, professor of accounting and finance at Saint Leo University. “She was a stay-at-home mom who taught me everything I know. I learned to be an accountant from watching how she used what she had.”

What she had was very little. Even by the standards of the time, Passard’s family was considerably poor. As a child, he and his seven siblings shared just one room in the family’s tiny, two-bedroom home in Jamaica. When they needed more space, they traded a spot on a bed for one on the floor.

Still, Passard says, he never felt inferior, never felt empty-handed.

“My parents, and my mother in particular, always made us feel like we had it good, like nobody had it better. She helped us understand what was really important: who you are, what you are made of.”

Despite an absence of material comforts, Novlette Dean always knew how and what to give. If there was no food to pack for lunch, she would pluck leaves from the lime tree in the backyard, and send her children off to school with homemade lime-leaf tea.

At times, she could be generous to a fault.

“Neighborhood kids would come over, and she would give them our food. They would eat at our house and then go eat at their own houses. I look back now and laugh. She didn’t know how not to be giving.”

Three months after her passing, those memories inspired Passard and Karine to honor Novlette’s legacy with a scholarship that recalls her many loves: education, her native country, and giving back.

“My mom paid forward, and she paid back. I know we like to talk about paying forward, but she believed in both. ”

Designated as the Novlette Dean Memorial Scholarship, an award will be granted annually to one or more students from the West Indies who pursue a degree in the field of accounting, economics, or finance.

Passard says his mother was “completely sold” on education, sometimes telling her children “you either eat or you go to school, and I choose school.”

He is confident she would have wanted to help a Saint Leo student.

“What we do here is really good. We change lives. I’m hoping I can change lives by doing something in my mom’s name—not to make her name bigger, but because of what she taught me.”

In the wake of losing his mother, he is still coming to terms with the full extent of her influence.

It’s a process of reflection he wants others to experience, so much so that he and Karine made it a condition of the scholarship.

“If you apply for my mother’s scholarship, you need to include an essay about the role your mother has played in your life. Maybe she’s that force in your background? I want you to take a hard look.”

And if Passard were that student, taking his own hard look?

“I would say my mother wasn’t a saint, but she knew how to perform saintly acts. I really believe God gave her a gift, because God knows what we’re going to go through.”

Her photograph sits atop the bookshelf in his office at University Campus, but he chose not to use the picture to tell her story. He says she wouldn’t want the scholarship to be about her. And she wouldn’t want it to be about him. She would want it to be about one thing: helping someone.

“My mom, she didn’t do these great things; she did these little things, for everyone. She just knew how to help people. Like Dorcas. She just did things for people.”

And in April 2018, when her scholarship yields its first award, Novlette Dean will do so again.

More information on the Novlette Dean Memorial Scholarship is available. If you would like to explore the possibility of establishing your own scholarship for Saint Leo students, please visit our Scholarships page.


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