College of the Sequoias alumni Deajah Stevens will run Monday, August 15, in the women’s 200 meter first round with the ultimate goal of going for Olympic gold. The former Giant, now a University of Oregon Duck, calls the Olympics her Super Bowl and only originally dared to dream of reaching them during the 2020 games in Tokyo, “but,” she says, “God had something else planned for me; I feel blessed.”
Stevens’ first call upon finishing the qualifying trials that sent her to Rio was to her little sister, Ameera. “I’d always try and convince her to run track or try volleyball or something, and she was never into it,” Stevens said. But among all the text messages blowing up Stevens’ phone after her race, it was one from her little sister that caught Stevens’ attention; it said 12-year-old Ameera was going out for her school track team the following week. “I was so excited that she was going to do that… I had a lot of texts but that’s the one that stood out to me.” And next, of course, Stevens shared the news with her mother, Lakia Perkins.
Perkins has become a minor celebrity in the community of Stevens’ fans from New York to the Central Valley to Oregon, setting up a GoFundMe account so she and Ameera could watch Stevens compete in Brazil. The fund goal was set at $13,000 and she raised just over $15,000 for the trip through the generosity of 189 donors over the last month.
Stevens came to COS from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, Queens, New York. Graduating from COS in three semesters, she earned a full ride scholarship to Eugene, where she is ready to graduate this year with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Sports Broadcasting.
COS Track & Field Coach Curtis Allen says of Stevens, “The thing I love about Deajah… She came in, took care of her business, did everything she was supposed to do… She’s got all the tools that it takes and she worked hard.”
Stevens says, of her second place Olympic trials finish, her primary reaction crossing the finish line was shock. Before competing, “My coach said, you don’t have anything to lose. Go out there and give it your all and you might surprise yourself and everybody else.”
Stevens’ accolades have built quickly. She is presently the sixth fastest women’s 200 meter runner in the world. She finished second in the 200 meter for last season’s NCAA championships. She was California Community College Athletic Association Student Athlete of the Year in 2015 and was named Northern California Female Track Athlete of the Year. She holds the COS school records in the 200 meters, 400 meters and the second place school record in the long jump. Allen says, with no small amount of pride, “Six months removed from COS and she’s in the Olympics.”
Though still dedicated to daily training, Stevens is getting a little time to bask in the fun of the Olympic Village. “It’s Huge!” She says, “I get to meet new people every day.” She attended the USA vs. Australia men’s basketball game and has seen a few of the diving competitions. She says most often the Team USA athletes watch the events together in the team lounge. She particularly likes the cafeteria, “the food selection from each station is from a different part of the world.”
As for Stevens’ plans no matter how things go in Rio, she’ll get to spend a little time back home with family and then get straight back to finish her studies.
College of the Sequoias Community College District is a two-year California community college offering educational and career technical programs for the residents of its district in Tulare and Kings counties. In addition to the campus in Visalia, COS operates a full-service center in Hanford that is home to the college’s police and fire academies. COS also opened its Tulare College Center in January 2013. It is a full-service college center and the home of COS’ agriculture and other programs. For more information about COS, please visit our website.