CHICAGO – May 5, 2021 –The past year has been marked by increased civic engagement and social change, but with North Carolina Central defensive end Jessie Malit, it’s been a call to action for some time.
The 2020-21 recipient of the Stats Perform FCS Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award basically got started on his mission as a high school freshman in 2014 when he and family members led a church youth group that provided winter housing for the homeless in his hometown of Concord, North Carolina.
Malit was one of 13 finalists – one from each FCS conference – nominated for the sixth annual Doris Robinson. Named after the late school teacher and wife of legendary Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson, it is presented to a student-athlete who excels both in the classroom and the community.
Malit, a senior, is on track to complete a political science degree in December, with a concentration in pre-law and theory. That his mother, Daisy, immigrated to the United States from Kenya has helped drive his passion for community.
“That’s a big part of just knowing where I come from, knowing that it’s always important to help people. My mom just raised me to be a person of service,” said Malit, who carries a 3.2 grade point average. He plans to attend grad school at N.C. Central as well.
Malit has learned as much outside the classroom as in it. Having transferred from North Carolina State two years ago, he is the vice president of North Carolina Central’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which gives a voice to student-athletes on campus, conference and NCAA levels, and he was nominated by university chancellor Dr. Johnson Akinleye for Campus Compact’s Newman Civic Fellowship, a non-profit organization that works to advance the public purposes of higher education.
He’s volunteered with food banks and a women’s shelter, mentored and read books to elementary school students, and organized a book drive to create a library in his mother’s home village in Kenya.
Before the 2020 presidential election, which drew the most votes in U.S. history, Malit led an effort that ended with all N.C. Central football players registered for voting. This spring, he’s part of a joint research project that is studying food insecurity in Durham, home of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school.
“I know I want to do things with civic engagement and getting out in the community. I don’t know whether I want to take the politics route or if I want to do more grass-roots efforts,” said Malit, who credits the influence of Juan Navarro, his position coach and the Eagles’ associate head coach, and Lucy Mason, the school’s coordinator for student-athlete development.
As a starter in all 12 games of N.C. Central’s 2019 season, the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Malit recorded 26 tackles, including five for loss and 1.5 sacks. He has another season of eligibility remaining.
Malit will be honored as the Doris Robinson Award recipient during an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks on May 15.
He believes the HBCU experience has elevated his awareness for involvement. Thinking back to the last year, Malit said, “I obviously still think we have a long way to go, but I definitely think with the conversations we’re able to have, we’re definitely progressing.”
2020-21 Doris Robinson Scholar-Athlete Award Finalists
Drayton Arnold, Chattanooga, QB, Sr. (Southern) – Public Administration Master’s degree; pursuing second Master’s in Criminal Justice
Justin Covington, Villanova, RB, Sr. (CAA) – Nursing degree with Sociology minor
Spencer DeMedal, Duquesne, S, Sr. (Northeast) – Biology
Bennett Dondoyano, San Diego, WR, Jr. (Pioneer) – Finance and Marketing double major
ZeVeyon Furcron, Southern Illinois, OL, Sr. (Missouri Valley) – Sport Administration degree; Education (Sport Studies) graduate program
Ezra Gray, Alabama State, RB, Sr. (SWAC) – Computer Information Systems degree
Gavin Landry, Northwestern State, WR, Sr. (Southland) – Business Administration (Finance) degree
Jessie Malit, North Carolina Central, DE, Sr. (MEAC) – Political Science (Pre-Law and Theory)
Rick Mottram, Bucknell, LB, Sr. (Patriot) – Mechanical Engineering with Physics minor
Dean Sise, Eastern Washington, DB, Jr. (Big Sky) – Management
K.J. Smith, North Alabama, CB, Sr. (Big South) – Interdisciplinary Studies (Health) degree
Jamaal Thompson, Tennessee Tech, DB, Jr. (Ohio Valley) – Communications
Eric Wilson, Harvard, OL, Sr. (Ivy) – Psychology