360° Coverage : How The Son Of African Immigrants Won The Race To The Ivy League

2 Updates

How The Son Of African Immigrants Won The Race To The Ivy League

Apr 5 2014, 9:44am CDT | by

By Julie Lythcott-Haims My heart aches for Kwasi Enin, the Long Island child of Ghanaian immigrants who earned a spot at all eight Ivy League schools - a truly astonishing feat of college admission...

Filed under: news

 
 
 

23 weeks ago

How The Son Of African Immigrants Won The Race To The Ivy League

Apr 5 2014, 9:44am CDT | by

By Julie Lythcott-Haims

My heart aches for Kwasi Enin, the Long Island child of Ghanaian immigrants who earned a spot at all eight Ivy League schools - a truly astonishing feat of college admission, and perhaps unprecedented. His qualifications are irrefutable: 2250 on the SAT (99th percentile), straight-A average, 11 advanced-placement courses, excellence in music, athletics, and leadership, and a beautiful common app essay using music as a motif.

In this era of hyper-competition over college admission some of us want a Kwasi-template to apply to our own kid, preferably starting at age two. What preschool did Kwasi attend, anyway? Which summer camp? Kwasi’s success both begs and answers the question, how did this happen?

Ask Kwasi how it happened, and he’ll credit his so-called “helicopter parents” with a fierce determination about education and achievement that characterizes not only West Africans but other immigrants to this country. I haven’t met the kid or his parents for that matter, but from what I’ve gleaned, Kwasi misunderstands the term.

Helicopter parents are those who do too much for their kids, which at a minimum results in a lack of basic life skills and can lead to crippling psychological harm. That’s clearly not Kwasi. Also included in the definition are parents who force their kids to study certain things and pursue a narrow set of activities, and there’s some indication that Kwasi’s parents may done that.

But here’s the nuance: Instilling a strong work ethic and setting high standards is good parenting. Pushing a kid to be the best at what the kid loves and has talent for: that’s good parenting too. But when a parent pushes a kid toward what the parent thinks is best or because it sates the parent’s ego – even when the kid has no inherent interest or talent – that’s helicopter parenting. From the interviews it’s clear Kwasi knows himself, likes himself, loves what he is doing, and enjoys pushing himself to excel. This, in the end, is what made the admissions difference .

Some people are asking not, how did this happen? But rather, how did this happen (to him?). Those who think this way may see black and brown people at best as undeserving recipients of handouts and setasides, at worst as thugs to be feared when walking down the street.

Some will say I’m “playing the race card” by raising this. Some are blind to their own race card – their access to legacy admission, as well as the very best schools, tutoring, college counselors, and test preparation assistance. Even in the face of objectively outstanding accomplishment like Kwasi’s, the American nightmare of race and status invades the  American Dream.

I’ve experienced that nightmare. I, too, was a black kid who got into some top schools, and I attended one of them – Stanford – and went on to achieve a good measure of success in my professional life. But knowing that some people believed I was only where I was because of my race, I felt the need to constantly prove myself, to be better in order to be seen simply as good enough. It felt like a footpressing down on my neck; it affected how I spoke and responded to many a question. At times it was so oppressive I couldn’t breathe. It took me the better part of my 46 years to get over it.

This is partly why my heart aches for Kwasi. The remainder of my ache comes from having a black son. When I heard about Kwasi I raised my fists in triumph over what it took for Kwasi and the Enins to get to this point, for how wonderful it is within our uniquely American context to see a young black man in the news for his astonishing intellectual achievement instead of for being on the wrong side of a gun.

And how unusual. There are plenty more highly accomplished black and brown boys in our nation, and we should absolutely celebrate them and offer opportunity to those who have the potential.

I replayed Kwasi’s CNN interview more than a dozen times, enjoying his earnest voice, his humble words, his unassuming demeanor. In it he tells the reporter, “Knowing that I’m going to have a happy day because of the things I’m doing in this day, because I love doing all of them… that’s what really pushes me.” I sit back, satisfied, with a smile. For Kwasi, for America, and for me.

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University, is currently pursuing a MFA degree in creative writing, and is the author of a forthcoming book on the perils of helicopter parenting (Holt, 2015). For more go to Facebook.com/deanjulie

 
Update
2

2 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing the workforce of 20,000 by 30 per ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 
Update
1

3 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double traged ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore
 

 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Now, explore Egyptian pyramids from home
London, Sep 19 (IANS) If you are yet to experience the wonders of the ancient world still surviving in Egypt, you can now turn into a virtual visitor -- thanks to Google Street View -- and explore the pyramids from the comforts of your home.
 
 
Smoking causes urological diseases
Vienna, Sep 19 (IANS) Smoking leads to a number of urological diseases, experts said.
 
 
'Angelina Effect' makes more women test for breast cancer
Islamabad, Sep 19 (IANS) At least three militants were killed Friday in a remote-controlled blast in Pakistan.
 
 
Want good raise at work? Get a supportive wife
New York, Sep 19 (IANS) Do not just blame your boss or jealous colleagues for no promotion or salary hike at work - your spouse's personality is equally important to decide if your chosen career will make you richer or poorer.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

India, Nepal agree to complete field work in border
Kathmandu, Sep 19 (IANS) Nepal and India have formed two panels to look into the boundary issue for the first time and finalised the terms of reference (ToRs) of the Boundary Working Group (BWG). The first meeting of...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
France launches first airstrikes against IS in Iraq
Paris, Sep 19 (IANS) France's President Francois Hollande said Friday French jets have launched first airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq where they seized major towns and threatened the region'...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Fireworks light Incheon sky as Asian Games ceremony begins
Incheon (South Korea), Sep 19 (IANS) A fusillade of fireworks marked the start of the opening ceremony of the 17th Asian Games at the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium here Friday. Fireworks lit up the sky here after a...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
GlaxoSmithKline China hit with record fine
Beijing, Sep 19 (IANS) The China branch of British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has been fined three billion yuan ($489 million) for paying bribes. Following Friday's closed-door trial of the GSK China bribery...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Rita Ora desperate to reconcile with Calvin Harris
London, Sep 19 (IANS) Singer Rita Ora is reportedly desperate to reconnect with her ex-boyfriend Calvin Harris following their messy break-up earlier this year. The "RIP" singer has written a letter to her former...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
IS uses chemical weapons against army in Iraq
Baghdad, Sep 19 (IANS) The Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has reportedly launched a chemical attack on Iraqi forces in Saladin province, media reports claimed Friday. The attack took place Wednesday and Thursday...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Rajnath Singh proposes SAARC centre for good governance
Kathmandu, Sep 19 (IANS) Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday proposed setting up a SAARC centre for good governance where officers from all member countries can come together to exchange their experiences....
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Deadpool movie given release date
20th Century Fox and Marvel Studios have announced that the X-Men spin-off 'Deadpool' will be released on February 12, 2016. The character appeared in the 2009 film 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine', with Ryan Reynolds playing...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Toby Kebbell linked to Ben Hur remake
Toby Kebbell is in early talks to appear in the remake of Ben Hur. According to Variety, the actor- who starred in 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes' - has already held discussions with MGM and Paramount over the role of...
Read more on Movie Balla
 
Liam Neeson loves fishing
Liam Neeson goes fly fishing to escape the Hollywood lifestyle. The 'Taken' actor - who has sons Michael, 19, and Daniel, 18, with late wife Natasha Richardson - tries to take two months off every year to indulge in his...
Read more on Celebrity Balla