Nicholas has what his school counselor at Stuyvesant High School describes as a “passion for the humanities.” He plays cello in the All State Orchestra, as well as two other classical groups, directs musicals and leads school orchestras. When he had to quit cello lessons because of their cost, he watched master classes on television. And when he quit SAT prep classes after figuring out the cost to his mother of paying for them, he borrowed used SAT prep worksheets from his friends. He lives in northern Queens, with a lengthy commute to his Manhattan school by Long Island Railroad and subway. “When I figured out that my mother had to spend ten hours scrubbing the floors of strangers’ bathrooms to afford my monthly train ticket to school,” he wrote in his essay, “I was devastated, yet deeply moved and inspired to work hard at school
and at my extracurriculars. I hoped that the chords that resonated from my cello during my concert at Carnegie Hall one night resonated beyond the great hall and into the back house-door where my mother would be enveloped by the strong smells of bleach and ammonia.” Nicholas has enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University to study architecture, which he describes as “the crossroads of all my interests — history, music, language.” He began studying Spanish in a bilingual school in Omaha, Nebraska and continued at Stuyvesant, earning a perfect score on the AP test.