An envelope from De La Salle Academy (DLSA) arrived in my mailbox. I gave that lottery ticket of exuberant joy or heavy sadness to my parents. They opened the envelope and gave me the news. My joy overflowed. I was accepted into DLSA.
I started DLSA in the Fall of 2013 as an incoming seventh grader. I remember walking up the long, winding stairs of the old DLSA building. Dark blue, worn walls saturated with laughs, hugs, and studying welcomed me everyday. Coming into DLSA, I only expected my workload would increase and that was definitely true. However, my expectations for what a community looked like in a learning environment did not exist. I had a bookish disposition when I was a kid. I appreciated interacting with others, but I preferred to study and complete classwork by myself. DLSA uprooted that mentality.
I came into DLSA with a touch of hubris. I did well throughout elementary school and thought I was the best at school. Then I took Brother David’s math class. Algebra refused to work with my head. I ended up meeting with Brother David after school several times a week. I quickly realized that I was not going to get through DLSA on my own. Relying on others to support you when you are unable to do a task on your own was a novel concept to me. In retrospect, I am incredibly grateful to have learned that lesson in middle school rather than in high school or college. If I tried to balance the responsibilities I have now without having a team around me, I would have buckled under the pressure a long time ago.
I have fond memories of Dr. Gonzalez’s (Dr. G) American Studies course and Mr. Tapscott’s Biology course. However, health class with Mr. Tapscott was a less than enjoyable time, but funny too look back on nevertheless. Dr. G was the first to expose me to Howard Zinn and high-level historical writing. I deeply enjoy reading history now, and I can thank Dr. G for being that gateway. Despite my current love of history, I did the best in Biology during DLSA. The excellent education I received emboldened me to explore the scientific field during high school. I did an internship at Columbia’s Irving Medical Center where I assisted in the genomics department.
Outside of the classroom, I appreciate the fellowship and self-reflection that DLSA sought to cultivate. I remember the eighth grade boys retreat. We were packed into rooms for sleep and elbow-to-elbow in a dining hall to eat. I played and prayed throughout the whole time. During the retreat, I asked myself who I wanted to be. I decided on: a Christian, kind, and someone people could look to for help. I have received help through my life journey from many unsuspecting sources, including DLSA. I hope I can pay the help forward to whoever comes my way in this life.
After DLSA, I attended The Trinity School for high school. I received instruction from some of the best teachers around and thank DLSA for putting me in a position to enter Trinity. While in high school, I interned at NYC Department of Youth and Community Development and Columbia University Medical Center. After graduating high school, I interned at the Manhattan District Attorney. Currently, I am a junior at Cornell University studying Industrial and Labor Relations. I hope to go to law school and study labor law or antitrust law. On campus, I am the Chair of Finance of the Prison Reform Education Project, a brother at Kappa Alpha Pi pre-law fraternity, a brother at Pi Lambda Sigma pre-government fraternity. Off campus, I am the Vice President of Budding Branches, a non-profit of undergraduate volunteers at over 30 US colleges that provide college advice to high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In order to relax from the daily whirlwind, I record music under my alter-ego Segun and dance.
DLSA gave me the foundation to achieve what I have. My parents came to America as Nigerian immigrants with no money and no knowledge of the educational system. DLSA provided me with the academic support that an immigrant parent working three jobs in a day could not afford to give. DLSA’s practice of giving opportunity to those who lack opportunity but are eager to seize their chances allows society to get access to the unique talents of the otherwise overlooked. DLSA’s mission not only makes a great school, but a better world.