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First Connestee Falls Scholarship Recipient Surprised

Transylvania Times June 13, 2017

In 1987, Jon Levi was sitting in the Brevard High School auditorium listening to the names of scholarship recipients being read when, to his complete surprise, he heard his name announced as the first recipient of the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship.

Jon Levi with his wife Victoria and daughters Grace and Mackenzie.

Levi had lived in Brevard since fourth grade. His father was a chemist who worked for DuPont. "I don't remember putting my name in for the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship," he said recently. "Someone else had to have recommended me."

At the time, it seemed the scholarship was awarded to student athletes. Jon was certainly that; he ran cross-country and track.

Levi attended UNCA for one year and graduated from North Carolina State with a degree in mass media and communications, which included courses in Pascal and Fortran programming. After college, he went to work selling industrial PVC pipe and trying to break into radio, ignoring what he had learned about computers.

When he was a child, his family had owned a MacIntosh computer which his father used for word processing. It was in college that he met another student who had his own personal computer which he used to post things on his bulletin board and communicate with other students all around the country. Jon didn't know it then but his future in technology was beginning to unfold. Levi joined the Navy and became a cryptologist. He attended Officer Candidate School and became an officer. When part of what is now PARI was relocated to West Virginia, he became one of several managers there. Now he is an IT specialist and system administrator for the Defense Information Systems Agency where he works in the Pentagon.

When asked if he was aware of how much money the Connestee Falls Student Scholarship Program had raised over the years, Levi said "Yes! I'm amazed! How does that happen? Auctions? Fundraising?" Levi is familiar with efforts needed to raise money for charities. He and his wife, Victoria, have two daughters. MacKenzie is 12 years old. Grace is 10. When she was 20 months old, MacKenzie was diagnosed with brain cancer. Today, after many expensive treatments, she is cancer-free.

Jon runs every year in a 5K race to raise money for the ASK Childhood Cancer Foundation. Victoria hosts a golf tournament. Both of them are active participants in giving back the kind of support that was freely given to them.

Perhaps Levi was made aware of that kind of generosity when he received the first Connestee Falls Student Scholarship back in 1987.

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