The honor of being Mr. Stillman is new but not unwelcome for Columbus native Arick Evans.
Evans graduated from Columbus High School in 2019 and enrolled at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to major in criminal justice. Now as Evans enters his senior year, he has been named Mr. Stillman College, the male student body ambassador for the school.
“I never thought I’d be here, and if you would’ve asked me five year ago if I would be here, I sure wouldn’t say I’d be Mr. Stillman College,” Evans said. “… It still feels unreal being the ambassador of a whole school. It really means a lot because I never thought that I would be doing things like this. When I came into Stillman, I was just coming into myself. I’d just go to class, go to the cafeteria and go back. Now I represent the whole school so I have to learn how to be selfless.”
Evans is the second-ever student to be named Mr. Stillman, an honor that recognizes a male student who embodies dignity, respect, community-mindedness and grace.
After getting involved in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and becoming the student director of Stillman’s Black Male Initiative, Evans thought the natural next step was to throw his hat in the ring to become Mr. Stillman.
“The inaugural Mr. Stillman was Ronnie Williams Jr., and I saw how he moved in the community, on campus, in the classroom and it inspired me to want to be like that,” Evans said. “Actually seeing him do all the things he did and all of the people he inspired, at first I didn’t really want to run for Mr. Stillman… I knew the workload. … (Williams) told me, ‘If you want to challenge yourself as a man, you should at least try to run.’”
Evans is the son of Rhonda Evans and Arick Evans Sr. His little sister Gennie will be attending Stillman in the fall. Evans said none of what he accomplished would be possible without his family, friends and community of Columbus.
“We have some great things coming out of Columbus,” Evans said. “When people look at Columbus, they think it’s a small town, but we’ve got great talent. It may be small, but we love each other in Columbus. We help each other get to the next level. So I just want to say for the older generations in Columbus, just pour more into the youth so we can keep the tradition going of molding us into things that could be great for the community.”
Over this weekend, Evans was in charge of the BMI Juneteenth celebrations at Stillman, which included a basketball tournament, a Black arts festival, a grill-off, a church service and a Father’s Day brunch. The celebration initially started out as a one-day event, but Evans said his adviser encouraged him to make a full weekend of events
His community service doesn’t stop there, though.
“I’m big on working with the youth, so my fraternity, we were going into the schools and we adopted a school, Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School down the street from Stillman College,” Evans said. “Every Friday, we used to read to them, and we’d do a little mentoring with the youth. With the Black Male Initiative, every Friday we’d have the STARS Academy school right behind Stillman come up here, and we’d mentor them. We’d grill and play games; just give the kids a relief from a long week.”
Evans’ mother, Rhonda, said she and her husband exposed both of their children to community service.
“I’m a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, and my sorority is about public service,” Rhonda Evans said. “Since I’ve graduated, I’ve been involved in public service and a lot of the times (Arick Jr.) went along with me.”
When Evans graduates from Stillman, he wants to become a forensic scientist and live all over in order to see and experience the world. Just because he intends to move away, doesn’t mean he’ll stay away.
“I will come back to Columbus,” Evans said. “I want to try and keep moving forward. I want to try to keep expanding, seeing the world, seeing more of new things. I’m most definitely going to come back and give back to my hometown. I love Columbus.”