The product of a selfless mother and grandparents who taught him to keep God first, Rashawn was blessed with a strong support system. The oldest of four with his father in prison, he knew at an early age that he had to set standards for his siblings. After receiving a stormy and turbulent forecast of his future from his second grade teacher, Rashawn was determined to prove the doubtful wrong. Since then, he has embarked on an academic crusade, having maintained outstanding grades throughout elementary and middle school. During his freshman year, his mother moved the growing family out of his grandparent’s apartment into a smaller, one-bedroom apartment. The fiscal woes that his family faced didn’t daunt him, however. In fact, Rashawn was motivated to seek work at the age of 14 and has since held a job as Head Youth Tutor at the local Community Action Partnership in his neighborhood, where he speaks Spanish to tutor the children of immigrant families. Although work required a lot of energy, Rashawn’s grades skyrocketed. In a high school that has a quorum of African-American students, he’s the only Black male in the National Honor Society and the highest ranked African-American in his graduating class, being 3rd out of 351 students. Rashawn is an AP Scholar with Distinction, QuestBridge National College Prep and Match finalist, National Geographic Student Expeditions scholar and People to People Student Ambassadors Scholarship recipient. As a junior, he attended math and science classes at Columbia University’s SPREP Program on weekends and as a senior, he has taken courses via Syracuse University and SUNY Albany. His endeavors have earned him a spot on his school’s competitive Academic League team, which has been invited to compete in a televised academic decathlon, called “The Challenge,” against over 200 schools in New York’s tri-state area.
Rashawn’s academic successes have led him to proposing a mentoring initiative for his school that would involve seniors mentoring freshmen. Holding student government positions for every year of high school, Rashawn has proven to be an accomplished leader in his community.
Rashawn owes his leadership qualities to his opportunities to travel to Europe in 2007 as a Student Ambassador and to Tanzania with National Geographic in 2009. He considers his experience in Tanzania life-changing; having worked with AIDS orphans, installed a water pipe in an agricultural village, camped in the middle of the savannah and being made an honorary chief by a Maasai ruler, this experience was a time of self-reflection and growth. Rashawn serves as President of Student Government, Vice-President of Model UN and is actively involved in a plethora of other activities. Rashawn is contemplating a major in International Relations to fulfill his passion for diplomacy. However, he realizes that he must first serve as a diplomat from the adversity-soiled streets he hails from to the upper echelons of society that await him in his future. A life of progress isn’t worth living if one doesn’t return back to serve those who have yet to rise.