Here’s an interesting story. A 17-year-old senior in high school named Kwasi Enin, the son of a mother and father who emigrated from Ghana, was accepted at Stony Brook University last week as a freshman in September.
Kwasi is from Shirley, Long Island, one of the blue-collar towns that border the Hamptons just to the west, from which many landscapers, pool maintenance people and building tradesmen come here in the long line of trucks and vans called the “trade parade” at 8 a.m. every workday morning.
Kwasi’s parents both work as nurses. They provided a stable, disciplined home for their son. And their boy is a straight-A student at William Floyd High School, whose sports teams sometimes play against Southampton or East Hampton high school in season.
What’s interesting about this lad, however, is that he was accepted to study not only at Stony Brook. He also was accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, a very rare thing. He has a choice of Brown, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Penn, Harvard or Dartmouth.
Kwasi Enin has been front-page news in both Newsday and the New York Post for this incredible feat, and he says it was all because of how he was raised. His parents, he said, were “helicopter parents,” that is to say, they monitored him at every turn.
“They said, ‘You have a mind, and you can do it. Always do your best,’” he told the Post. “They taught me 95 percent isn’t good enough. I’m proud, honored, appreciative.”
His father had this to say. “I say, ‘You have all the resources in the world. Whatever you need, you have it here. You don’t know how lucky you are to be in America. You have no idea how blessed you are. I’m telling you.’”
It wasn’t so long ago that many people reading this would be applauding how this young man was raised. Today, however, some would say he must have psychological problems from being driven so much. But that tells you more about other people than it does about Kwasi. And it doesn’t jibe with what his fellow students think of him. His parents pushed him. He loved it.
Marcus Mingo, 16, to the New York Post: “He’s cool and he’s blessed. He’s definitely a hard worker. He was always in class earlier than everyone else. He’s kind and considerate, the kind of person that everyone likes.”
Devin Robinson, 15, to the New York Post: “He’s really ambitious. He inspires people because he makes you think you can do whatever you want to do. It makes me want to work a lot harder and get into a good school.”
Kwasi is on the track team—he competes in shot put—plays viola and sings in the school orchestra, and is also in the choir at church. In addition, he volunteers at Stony Brook Hospital.
“He plays a little video games with his friends, to relax,” he dad says. “He does it for maybe an hour or two because he has other things he has to do. We’ve directed him to be a high achiever. And he knows this is what’s expected of him. No two ways.”
The Post published excerpts from Kwasi’s application essay, which is about his love of music. “Music has become the educator that has taught me the importance of leadership, teamwork and friendship….I know how strong that (a) group can be if every member puts one hundred percent effort into our task. Leadership is not always about directing others. The most important task of a leader is to create harmony between each member of the group, which reveals the group’s maximum potential. With improvement and balance comes success, and music taught me all of these virtues.”
Why so many schools applied to? He was afraid he wouldn’t get in. He also applied to Duke, SUNY Geneseo and Binghamton University and got into those. Where will he go? He hopes for Yale. But, his final decision may be influenced by financial aid. He will, I suspect, get it.