Manda (Global Public Health, New York University)

Manda arrived here from Mali just four years ago, but she has already become a straight-A student. On both state and national exams designed for native English speakers, she achieves above average scores. She also speaks both French and Bambera, and so has fit right in at International High School at Union Square, where students from 50 countries speak close to 30 languages. “So bright, so resourceful, so hard-working and so reliable,” one of her teachers wrote. “I’ve known thousands of students in my teaching career, and have found the particular combination of assets Manda possesses is extremely rare. She is certain to succeed. She is steady, she is hungry and she has the skills to back it up.” Most in Manda’s family believe that a woman her age should get married and help support the family. “But,” Manda said, “I will go to university, get a master’s degree and I will help the poor.” Inspired by a grandfather in Mali who is a doctor, her aim is to help others, perhaps as an international aid worker, perhaps as a physician. “I do not want the sick to come to me,” she said in her interview, “I want to go to them.” The next steps on her journey take her to New York University.