Insight is a striking quality in Makan, both about himself and in the breadth of his approach to academics. In his essay he wrote about changing his personality from someone who uncritically sought the approval of others into a self-motivated individual reconnecting with family and with goals that, when met, attracted admiration from people he respected. At the highly intensive Democracy Prep Charter High School in Harlem — where he has taken every AP class available, earning highest honors in Physics, Calculus and U.S. History, and also recorded the only perfect score in the Math SATs in the school’s history — his AP Calculus teacher wrote about Makan’s “incredible intellect to tackle a tremendous workload.” “In my 14 years,” the teacher wrote, “he is one of the top five in terms of pure intellect and potential.” Noting Makan’s ability to integrate mathematical and scientific concepts across categories of studies, he continued, “He reminds me of a student that could genuinely make a new discovery or relationship in the mathematical field.” Makan lives with his mother and five siblings, one of whom is attending college. When not studying, he can sometimes be found on the basketball court, where he displays another sort of drive. “I’m 5’9’,” he says, “but I’m just an inch away from dunking.” Makan has enrolled at Columbia, where he intends to study applied mathematics or engineering.