The Oakland high school valedictorian who was the first Black male to graduate from the school has finished his first year in college. The student returns to his hometown with a stellar GPA from one of the top 10 universities in the nation.
Ahmed Muhammad, an Oakland native who made news across the country when he graduated from Oakland Technical High School as the first African American valedictorian, has now completed his first two semesters at Stanford University.
The 19-year-old credited his high school with preparing him for such a feat after bursting out his freshman year at the sixth-best college in the nation with a 4.05 GPA.
According to him, “the way I tackled my classes at Stanford wasn’t too much different from what my teachers expected of me in high school,” he told KTVU.
He experienced certain differences that are normal for freshmen in college, such as higher class sizes and numerous distractions he wasn’t used to in high school. He described these as “a lot of ways to be able to have fun but are not necessarily beneficial.”
However, Muhammad said he leaned on the skills he learned while studying in high school to help him to stay focused on the right path, lessons he never thought he would need.
He said, “I didn’t understand why they were so hard on me in high school, but now that I’m in college, I’m actually using what they taught me.”
Drawing on the academic foundation he built in high school courses like calculus and physics for Advanced Placement and having the humility to seek his teachers for assistance when he was having trouble with a topic was crucial to his success. He said that having the discipline to sit down and genuinely study and grind out the information was the single most important factor in having a great first year.
“My teachers would also emphasize to me that it’s not about getting a good grade, but to commit to the class,” he continued. Instead of aiming for grades, aim to comprehend the subject; the grade will follow.
The incoming sophomore plans to focus on one field of study his sophomore year, and he is considering computer science or electrical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering design.
Along with being an outstanding student, he is also a successful businessman. He is the founder of Kits Cubed, a nonprofit organization that provides children with hands-on science experiences through affordable, readily available kits based on everyday objects.
After hearing from his niece and nephew that they were “poor” at science, he started the organization.
By having them have fun while studying, he hoped to alter their perception of the subject.
He remembered, “I suppose Amir is like 6 or 7, and Ilah, I think she just made 9.” “Whenever I watch them, we play video games, read books, watch TV, or do other things like play chess.
They said, “No, I detest science,” when I tried to do science with them. I’m awful at it. I went to my room and took a few science books out. After doing some research online, I was able to create some science projects for them to perform at home. They loved it, and the materials were just things from around the house,” Muhammad remarked.
He recognized he could help other kids and inspire something amazing in them about science after observing how effortlessly they embraced the initiative.
Muhammad added, “At first I just thought I just wanted to deliver it to as many kids in Oakland as possible.”
Muhammad is creating a pilot program that he is pushing to get into public schools in Oakland.
He hopes to realize his dream of making science approachable for kids of all races, ages, and socioeconomic backgrounds by integrating his program with the Oakland Unified School District’s science curriculum through the Full Option Science System curriculum, which is used in public schools across the nation.
“Kids may truly take home the curriculum and expand on the material that their teachers taught them,” Muhammad says if his vision comes true. It is built on the same idea that science is all around them and that kids should study what they already know and are comfortable with.
He is aiming to maintain the inaugural event from the previous year, a Labor Day weekend end-of-summer scientific fair, and has fresh ideas that he thinks will broaden the objective of the program he created in 2020.
The 2021 National Geographic Society Young Explorer cohort member is collaborating with an Oakland-based community organization called Fam 1st Family Foundation, which is run by NFL stars and Oakland Tech football stars Marshawn Lynch and Joshua Johnson, in addition to the large activation and trying to figure out how to get more kits to more students. At the West Oakland Youth Center, it provides another season of no-cost scientific camps.
The young man didn’t anticipate being so busy with the school over the past ten months and having to assign duties to other young people in his town to keep his business afloat.
Muhammad said, “College was a lot; I absolutely misjudged how much effort college would be.”
Additionally, he is expanding his paid employment opportunities this summer and seeking to hire teenagers and young adults, between the ages of 16 and 24, to work for him in the following divisions: kit development, community engagement, marketing, and graphic design.
He announced the positions on Instagram with the statement, “Are you interested in fostering science opportunities for young children both within and outside of your community? Are you seeking to advance by acquiring priceless leadership, design, and teamwork abilities that will also significantly influence our communities? Do you want to change the world? If yes, we have the ideal chance for you!
Muhammad views his peers as the movement’s leaders and sees himself as a catalyst for neighborhood transformation. “Everything is youth-led to strengthen our community,” he stated.
The scholar-mogul said, “Kits Cubed is far bigger than myself.” Even as I develop academically, I want Kits Cubed to advance.
Muhammad says he is seeking a summer internship for himself as if that isn’t enough.