Brooklyn native, Tafari John-King was born to Trinidadian immigrant Carl King and Guyanese immigrant Paula John. His parents have both instilled in him a hardworker’s attitude and made sure he understood the value of education. At a young age, John-King’s parent’s split up causing him to live with only his father. His father was oftentimes busy with work and he learned how to be independent with his studies. Witnessing his parents work as hard as they have to provide for him, John-King knew it was expected of him to get an education and not become influenced by the negative activities he witnessed so many other young men in his neighborhood face. From a young age, John-King’s father has instilled in him a sense of giving to others. Most notably, his father played a major role in releasing his friend from jail who had been incarcerated wrongfully for 21 years. When John-King got to high school he knew he wanted to get involved in service from seeing his dad’s actions but didn’t know in what capacity.
John-King began to step into leadership positions after joining a program sponsored by JP Morgan Chase called The Fellowship Initiative. In that program he made 22 brothers who he’s done a range of leadership activities with. The summer after his freshman year, John-King attended a 3-week business camp at Columbia University, which gave him his first exposure to the business world and a hunger to work as hard as he could to be as successful as the executives he met. He’s also traveled to South Africa in the summer of 2012 with The Fellowship Initiative for a leadership and social entrepreneurship program at the African Leadership Academy, which allowed him to learn invaluable skills that he has used in Senior Year.
John-King has been involved in a variety of leadership activities after joining The Fellowship Initiative. He’s been Grade Representative in 10th and 11th grade and is current school president. He was in charge of scholarship in the National Honor Society in 10th and 11th grade as well. There he tutored fellow peers in his high school and became a mentor to a few. In 11th grade John-King became involved in a non-profit called Pencils of Promise, which seeks to enhance primary education for children in some developing nations. Although he’s given service in many ways he still felt like he hadn’t contributed enough to his community. In the summer of 2012, John-King was a Bezos Scholar and attended the Aspen Ideas Festival. There he was inspired to start a local community organization Project GreenUP, which promotes healthier eating and cleaning up Crown Heights. Since the beginning of the year Project GreenUP has already done a few cleanups, Hurricane Sandy Relief and is even about to hold its first festival for students and adults to hear from “green” speakers.
John-King enjoys public speaking opportunities and landed a huge role as a TEDYouth Host in November 2012. He hopes to have more public speaking opportunities like this in college. He will attend Harvard University where he wants to study Economics and Computer Science to one day begin his own technology company. Although he’s open to changes in some of his plans, the one thing that will always remain constant is the unconditional service he gives to others.