Since first grade, Ijah Mondesire-Crump has been committed to numerous curricular and extracurricular activities. This commitment to being active was modeled by his strong and loving mother, who refused to accept the hand that life had given to her. Raising Ijah alone, she encouraged him to be proactive and to take charge of his own life rather than be directed by varying circumstances. He attributes most of his accomplishments to her, and would like to thank her for all the years she has sacrificed to see that he attains a challenging and diverse education.
Ijah has continually worked to assert himself as a unique individual, taking on varied activities that both broadened and stimulated his intellect. Showing curiosity and promise in kindergarten, he was accepted by a program called Early Steps, which helps place African American students into New York Independent Schools. He distinguished himself at St. Bernard’s as both a scholar and full time athlete. At graduation he won the science prize for scientific achievement, and first place at his science and technology fair. Outside of school, Ijah took classical piano lessons at the Diller-Quaile School of Music, fenced at the Peter Westbrook Foundation, and competed in chess with veterans of the American Legion. In Bronx tournaments Ijah won nine first-place titles and two second-place titles.
With his transition to high school, Ijah began to assert his leadership skills. At Riverdale Country School he became involved in the selective Peer Assistance and Leadership Program. He is currently a co-president of the Students of Color Coalition, and a member of the executive committee at Diversity Awareness in Independent Schools. He is also a member of the chess team, and each year he has played soccer, lacrosse, and fenced. Through his teamwork and dedication, he was leading scorer and captain of the soccer team, while achieving first team All-Ivy for the 2001 selections. In fencing he came in second place at the Mamaroneck Fencing Invitational. While seeking a firm education, Ijah has been named a Harvard Chapter Quest Scholar, a Ventures Scholar, and a Ross Scholar.
Ijah’s scientific mind has been put to the test during summer internships. In the ninth grade he was involved in zoological research at the Bronx Zoo. In the tenth grade he participated in two separate internships at Western Maryland College and in the neurobiology department of Mount Sinai School of Medicine; both were intensely involved in DNA research. Last summer he participated in The Quest Scholars Program at Harvard University, a rigorous summer residential program that helps place underrepresented students in college. This school year he has developed a community service project to help his community, linking teenagers with senior citizens. With strong Christian values, Ijah lives his life by the Bible phrase, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).