1st generation Ghanaian student accepted in 8 Ivy League Institutions

by Akosua Oforiwaa Ayim, NY

Humble. Well-Rounded. Grounded. These were just some of the words that came to mind as I sat down and interviewed Kwasi Enin, the young man who has flooded mainstream media after applying to and being accepted to all 8 Ivy League institutions (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, UPenn, Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth) along with a few other excellent schools. The Ivies constitute some of America’s top educational programs; it is quite a feat to even apply to all eight schools, let alone be accepted to every single one! Kwasi Enin was born in New York but is proudly of Ghanaian descent. He is the son of Ghanaian immigrants and now lives in Shirley, Long Island where he is a senior at William Floyd high school with a ranking of 11th in a class of 647 students, placing him in the top 2 percent. He is also an extremely talented musician having played the viola for 9 years. He considers music to be his biggest passion and a motivator in every other aspect of his life. While he has always considered himself an academic, Kwasi was sure to give the proper credit to the support of his family. “Being Ghanaian has given me wonderful family and the qualities of who I am. Being Ghanaian is a complete part of my life and makes up everything I do, in a sense.” He recognizes that though he was born in the States, he grew up in a fairly traditional household where his parents always expected him to do his best – and for a child like Kwasi, his potential kept the bar high.  One thing he definitely appreciated was having parents that didn’t constantly hound him, but still found the necessary balance to keep him in line; it is clear that their role in his academics and finding that balance is partly what has allowed Kwasi to flourish into the young man he is growing up to be.
So what motivates a young, first-generation Ghanaian-American to apply to all 8 Ivy League institutions? For Kwasi, the mother of his childhood friend birthed the idea – she is a Jamaican immigrant whose parents inspired her to apply to an Ivy. She eventually went to Princeton and those in her immediate family also attended Ivy League schools. As he was growing up, she was always present and giving him the confidence to eventually apply to these top programs because she saw that he would excel there, even when he did not initially see the potential within himself as a younger boy. When the time came to apply and he was able to do exceedingly well on the SATs with a score of 2250 out of 2400, he finally knew he was ready. He was aware it would be tough to get into just one, so he figured he would apply to all of them “and see what happens.”
The first letter came from Princeton, where he had applied for early admission. This first acceptance received a huge celebration – his parents were unbelievably proud, (who wouldn’t be?) especially since it was so early in the admissions process. With a Princeton acceptance letter under his belt, he could have stopped there, but Kwasi “wanted to complete the dream of applying to all 8.” He kept working on his applications through January, and the fruits of his labor paid off in March when letter after letter came in, offering him a spot at these stellar spaces of learning.
Now comes one of the most important decisions – where will he go? Being the grounded young man that he is, surrounded by supportive parents and family, Kwasi says that he will compare his offers, specifically in regards to financial aid, before making a decision. Money is always a factor, “If you can’t pay, you can’t go,” he says, which is a hard truth for many students applying for schools in America. Once he receives all of his financial aid packages, he will decide which schools with an affordable package he likes the best. I did take the time to ask Kwasi if he had any words for those in the media who were trying to downplay his achievement or even smear his name. Always humble, he replied with a simple “no, I don’t have anything to say to them, I try not to read all of the articles. I will continue to do what I do best.” However, he does want other young people to know “that whatever they dream for, especially education, is possible if they push for it.” His hard work has become a role model for others, including his younger sister who is 14 and has already decided that she wants to attend an Ivy League.

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Posted by on Apr 15 2014. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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