“Ever since I was little,” Elhadji wrote in his essay, “I always loved to be around people who spoke different languages besides mine.” Wolof, the language of Senegal, is his home tongue, and he also speaks French, Arabic, and English. 

Elhadji came here from Africa three years ago, enrolling in a Bronx school devoted to helping immigrants learn English. His record there is outstanding. He is third in a class of 50, one of three seniors in a calculus class, and is enrolled in a college-level English literature class.

His college counselor describes Elhadji as “one of the most astute students at our school. He has an intellect and curiosity for learning and is always pushing himself to take advantage of opportunities for growth.” He is also a leader. He was chosen to lead a college access program at the school, training in the basics of college access and financial aid counseling. Helping expand the college-bound culture of his school, he led workshops of 25 sophomores and seniors.

He has long worked to help his father and brother by working at a restaurant on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, days chosen to minimize interference with schoolwork. When his father was injured on the job and could not work, Elhadji took on extra shifts at the restaurant to help support the family.

Elhadji plans to study computer engineering. In her college recommendation, his calculus teacher posed a question, and answered it: “Will he be an asset to your student population bringing warmth, care, and an interesting life perspective to your community? Definitely.” She noted that Elhadji was a “friend who aids others in and out of the classroom.” His college counselor summed up by saying “his positive attitude and determination, even in the face of adversity, is an immensely commendable asset.”

The teacher/mentor that has made the greatest difference in my life is Ms. Jackie, my college counselor, who I consider as a mom because of the way she cares about me. She helped me a lot with my college process and even a personal issue. I really can’t find the words to describe how I appreciate her help and her personality.