By ROGER MOONEY
Ny’Reon Shuman has a blueprint for his future.
The 17-year-old has designs on being an architect. He wants to own an architectural firm, one with offices around the world.
He wants to design a big house for his grandmother, Katherine Shuman, who adopted him when he was an infant. He calls her “Mom.”
“She’s made sacrifices after sacrifices to get me to be here,” Ny’Reon said. “She’s literally the person I do everything for. I know once I make it, there is nothing in the world she can’t have, because that’s my mom.”
Once I make it.
To the teachers and staff at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, Ny’Reon is making it now.
“To me, he’s outside of the mold,” said Jackie Hardin, who has been Ny’Reon’s guidance counselor for the past four years.
Ny’Reon, a senior at Bishop Kenny, attends the Catholic school on a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship, which is provided by corporate tax contributions to Step Up For Students. Ny’Reon has used the FTC Scholarship to attend a private school every year beginning with kindergarten.
“It’s been amazing,” Katherine said. “Can you see me drawing social security, trying to work and take care of him without a scholarship? Would have been no way I could have done it. It’s been a blessing to us because it paved the way for him.”
Katherine, 68, is a home health care aide. She has had seven back surgeries since 2010. In late December, she suffered a torn ACL and a broken bone in her right leg after a fall. Through all her medical maladies, Ny’Reon has served as her caregiver. He did his schoolwork virtually during the first two weeks of January so he could take care of his mom.
“He puts her needs before his own,” said Dawn Huskey, who teaches practical and performing arts. “What 17-year-old young man would do that? He left school. He went on virtual learning so he can protect her. He has a heart of service.”
Katherine’s son is Ny’Reon’s biological father. Shortly after Ny’Reon was born, he asked Katherine if she could take care of the baby.
“They were not in the right head space to raise a child,” Ny’Reon said of his parents. “My grandmother adopted me when she was 52 and I was two months old. For me to come from a past like that to the man I am today, nothing but God did that.”
Faith takes center stage in the lives of the Shumans, which is why Katherine wanted a faith-based education for Ny’Reon. They belong to Trinity Deliverance Christian Church in Jacksonville. When he was 11, Ny’Reon was asked to preach in front of the congregation. He’s been a guest preacher ever since.
“He sounds like one of the old preachers from way back when,” Katherine said.
Ny’Reon has not seen his biological mother since he was 3. He would like to meet her someday and show her all he has accomplished.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to form a more stable relationship as mother and son,” he said. “My heart is in the right place. I’m praying to God that we can. I hope that it plays out well.”
Ny’Reon carries a 3.0 GPA with a course load heavy on college prep work. He began his own photography business after developing a love for photography in the fifth grade. He has his own LinkedIn page.
As a fifth-grader he began attending the MaliVai Washington Youth Foundation (MWYF) summer camps, where he learned to play tennis. He now teaches tennis there and is president of the Foundation’s Teen Board of Directors for Club 904, which prepares high school students for college. The MWYF provides various scholarships to be used for college. Ny’Reon has earned three.
He also received a $27,000 college scholarship from the Stanley G. Tate Florida Prepaid College Foundation and Guardian Catholic Schools.
Ny’Reon plans to use these scholarships at either Florida International University or the University of Miami.
His goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in computer science.
His love of architecture began in the ninth grade when he took Digital Information Technology. For one assignment, he had to create a three-story house.
“I became so fascinated by the design, by the process,” he said. “I always told my mom I want to build her a house, and then I thought I could do this for a living and start my own architectural firm and branch off around the world.”
Huskey met Ny’Reon during a Summer Learning Strategies course she taught to in-coming freshman.
“I don’t mean to say that I could tell the future, but from the time I met him as a graduating eighth-grader, I knew there was something special about this kid,” she said.
Huskey’s husband, Mike, works for an architectural, engineering and construction firm that has offices around the world. He met Ny’Reon through a Zoom call, and Ny’Reon peppered Mike with questions about how to break into the field and start his own business.
“I’m in awe of this kid,” Dawn Huskey said. “I didn’t have my stuff together at 17 like he does.”
Said Hardin, “He’s wise, just so mature for a high school student. It’s always exciting to see that.”
Thanks to a sturdy foundation made possible by a tax credit scholarship, Ny’Reon seems capable of reaching unlimited heights.
Roger Mooney, manager, communications, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.