"I could write a list starting in elementary school of all the people we grew up with who have been killed," Akintunde Ahmad said.
Seventeen-year-old Akintunde Ahmad has a big decision ahead of him.
Yale, Brown, Columbia, Northwestern, the University of Southern California, UCLA, Howard, Chapman, Cal Poly and Cal State East Bay have all extended offers to the Oakland Technical High School senior. Ahmad's sterling list of academic achievements include a 5.0 GPA, appearances on the honor roll every semester and a score of 2100 (out of 2400) on the SAT.
His extracurricular accomplishments are just as impressive: an MVP award from Oakland Athletic League for baseball in 2013, a member of the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra, a player of the trumpet, French horn and djembe — a West African drum.
As one of six children raised in a Rastafarian household in Oakland, California, Ahmad claims to have always been good at following directions and doing things without being asked. However, he also understands the dangers awaiting young Black men like himself on the streets.
"There's plenty of people I know who have been killed," he said. "I could write a list starting in elementary school of all the people we grew up with who have been killed."
While his extreme focus and honed time-management skills helped Akintunde to avoid the violence that riddles his surroundings, he noted that he too could have easily been "caught up in that life" or, simply, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
His older brother, Azeem, who was caught carrying drugs in a federal sting operation in 2012, is currently serving a 41-month sentence in federal prison.
"We got the same mother, the same father, just a different path," Ahmad said.
"I feel like it's a setback for him, but sometimes it takes that kind of shock to grab your attention."
As for his academic path, it continues to look bright, but uncertain. The college-bound student plans to play baseball for his future alma mater and possibly major in pre-med or pre-law.
"That's what I'm thinking, but I'm still undecided," he said.
Like Ahmad, Black high school seniors Kwasi Enin, Avery Coffey and Tchakamau Mahakoe also made headlines this spring for their exemplary academic achievements and subsequent offers from several Ivy League institutions and top universities.
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(Photo: Courtesy of KGO TV)