By Yadira Betances
---- — LAWRENCE — Marquis Victor is taking a lesson from his life to teach at-risk youths in the city about making better futures for themselves.
Victor will lead creative workshops at the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence to help youngsters develop socially-conscious art organizations or businesses. He came up with a proposal for the program, which won $1,200 in the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative.
Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Sandbox, David Parker, said the program is “excited” that Victor won both second place and Fan-favorite at their Creative Economy Pitch Contest.
“The judges were impressed with Marquis’ approach to empowering at-risk youth, as well as his strategy for achieving financial independence. The Sandbox hopes this is going to have a big, long term impact in Lawrence,” Parker said.
Although Victor is known locally for excelling as a guard with the Central Catholic Raiders, scoring 1,193 career points, he said he has always been fond of the arts, especially poetry and the spoke word.
“Arts is an important part of a student’s education,” said Victor, 26. “Along with classical education, law, physics, theology you’re building a mindset that follows them to adulthood. But if kids are not exposed to it, they can’t be interested in it.”
Victor is co-founder and president of Elevated Though Inc., a non-profit art-based program which aims to address social justice issues through art. Founded in 2010, they held their first workshop at Lawrence Community Works that same year. Currently, they are hosting the exhibit, “(A) rise through Faith” at Essex Art Center, 56 Canal St., until June 7.
That’s the same concept he wants to bring to the Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence.
“We want the kids to come up with their own ideas. We’re looking for kids to change the world through socially conscience murals and other art works,” he said.
Victor, a three-time Merrimack Valley Conference all-star, won a full scholarship to Assumption College. But, he lost the scholarship and a place on the college team, because he flunked his courses by not attending classes, fighting and getting into other types of trouble.
“I completely forgot what I was there for, because I was too immature. Before that, basketball was my only focus and as much as I loved to play it, I tried to figure out my life
Reality set in after Victor played only six games with the Greyhounds in his freshman season and lost his $32,000 scholarship at Assumption College.
He was so distraught, he wasn’t sure he wanted to return to school or set foot on a basketball court again.
But, he started getting his life back together again. He moved to Providence where he attended a community college.
“I realized how important education was, which is why I went back. The more you know, it makes life easier for you. School has been a journey and a blessing for me,” Victor said.
Victor transferred to Salem State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. He was captain of the Vikings basketball team at Salem State during his senior year. He now has a master’s degree in education from Lesley University and was a National Teaching Fellow with Citizen Schools.