Akintunde Ahmad may describe himself as a “street dude,” but he’s anything but ordinary. The 17-year-old Oakland student has a perfect 5.0 GPA, a 2100 SAT score, and a slew of acceptance letters from some of the nation’s top schools.
Despite his achievements, Ahmad says he’s often judged because of his appearance. As a six-foot-one-inch African American teen with long locs few believe he’s such a great student.
“People looking at me funny is so common that it doesn’t stick out for me anymore,” Ahmad says. He’s even taken to keeping a picture of his GPA and SAT scores on his phone to quiet the critics. “It’s something that I’ve gotten used to.”
He adds: “I’ll leave this school and there will be teachers who never knew I was one of the people on the honor roll.”
Ahmad is proud to be a product of Oakland Public Schools, and credits his parents for keeping him on the straight and narrow. ‘Tunde, as he’s called by his friends and family, is one of six children raised by Zarina and Mubarak Ahmad. His mother is a principal at a local elementary school and his father is a mechanic. The family follows the Rastafari religion and has worked hard to instill good values in their children. However, ‘Tunde knows things could have turned out differently.
“There’s plenty of people I know who have been killed,” he says. “I could write a list starting in elementary school of all the people we grew up with who have been killed.”
“I could have easily been caught up in that life. You don’t have to be a bad person to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Unlike his older brother Azeem, who fell into the wrong crowd and ended up with a 41 month federal prison sentence, ‘Tunde says he’s never felt compelled to disobey his parents.
“I’ve never tried to cross any boundaries or anything like that,” he explains to SFGate.com. “I’m just good at following directions, and no good ever comes from challenging a Parental Unit.”
His efforts have paid off. ‘Tunde already has acceptance letters from Yale, Brown, Columbia, Northwestern, the University of Southern California, UCLA, Howard, and others, and plans to either study law or medicine at university.
Along with being an exceptional student, ‘Tunde is also a musician and sought-after athlete. He played basketball for three years, but quit to focus on baseball, where he was named MVP of the Oakland Athletic League in baseball in 2013. ‘Tunde also plays the French horn, the djembe–-a West African drum—the trumpet, and is a member of the Young Musicians Choral Orchestra.
While he’s been decisive about his life thus far, ‘Tunde is still unsure where he’ll be attending college in the fall. At the moment, he’s leaning toward either Yale or Brown, but any university would be lucky to have a student of his caliber.