My story begins in Accra, Ghana,” Nana wrote in his essay. He was born in the United States, but he had been sent at age two to stay with his grandfather for a period. Nana is grateful to this day. “John Asamoah Kuehne,” Nana wrote, “was a retired military man. His favorite motto was ‘Learn very hard.’” “He taught me the basics: writing my alphabets, speaking Twi and English and reading books.” At age four, Nana returned to New York. He eventually enrolled at Bard College Early High School, one of 150 students chosen from 5,000 applications.

He embraced Bard’s opportunities. “Nana demonstrates both the intellectual power and confidence to engage with the best of his peers,” wrote one of his professors. His concern for justice, the teacher wrote, has had an impact: “Nana is a student leader of our school’s Equity Team, working with students, alumni, and faculty to help our school move towards a more inclusive and less divisive community. His concern for justice complements his more scholarly interests in how these issues have been addressed and understood in the past.”

Nana’s college advisor was struck by the themes of a book on which Nana has been working. The manuscript, Nana wrote, “narrates the perspective of a young schizophrenic boy.” “There is a superhuman aspect of this disorder I fictionalize, but there is also an urgent theme of sanity in humanity that I want people to conceive…. How does society humanize these ‘disorders’ and what are ways we can improve the treatments to eventually find a cure that does not dehumanize those who possess this disorder?”

“It is not every student of his age,” his adviser wrote, who “has an eye for combining the fantastical with the practical as Nana has in his writing. Although he has plans to start a career in pharmacy right after college, his dual interest in writing – and journalism in particular – are sure to take him in exciting directions in the future.”

Many thanks to Perry Pazer for supporting Nana through his college journey.