Promise Student Series: The Gift of Giving Back to The Kalamazoo Promise0
Like most Kalamazoo Promise recipients, Kevan Hess has a special story. And it includes being shaped by the city he still calls home.
“Growing up in Kalamazoo exposed me to a very diverse group of people, whether it was socially, racially or economically,” said Hess. “I can feel comfortable in any given situation because I grew up with people from all walks of life. Kalamazoo also has a rich history, along with an interesting name that always made it a fascinating town to call home.”
Hess was no ordinary kid. As a senior at Kalamazoo Central, he earned honors as the top physics student in his class. He was also a baseball player, earning all-state honors and a place on the state’s Dream Team. He went on to play baseball for three years at Western Michigan University. After his junior year at WMU majoring in Physics, he was recruited by the Detroit Tigers where he played for three years.
“Graduating from college debt free is a pretty awesome feeling. With student loans and tuition getting more and more costly, it allowed me to put my finances towards things like a house,” said Hess. “It also gave me the peace of mind to pursue my dream of playing professional baseball without having the worry of how to pay for my education when I returned to school.”
Hess came back to WMU and completed his Physics degree in 2012. While interviewing with different companies, he was recruited by Dan Jaqua for Jaqua Realtors to enter the field of real estate.
“Once I saw I had a tremendous job opportunity and compared it to the quality of life factor, it was a no-brainer to come back and stay in Kalamazoo,” Hess said.
As a real estate agent, Hess sees first-hand how The Promise impacts Kalamazoo. He says it has helped the value of homes within the district and retention rates. He also has noticed that families who may have moved out of the area are choosing to stay in the district, along with families moving from out of town to take advantage of the program.
“You can see an excitement with the community, that we have something awesome to offer our next generation,” said Hess. “It also shows the value that Kalamazoo has on education and the investment toward our youth. I love that our community has great leadership. The direction Kalamazoo is heading gets me very excited for what's to come.”
What does Hess have in mind for the future?
“I would like to be more involved with the community at a leadership level and be involved in mentoring/coaching youth in the area,” Hess said. “I have been very fortunate in my endeavors and want to be able to give back to where I grew up.”