BY BOB HARRIS
Joel Okpara, the valedictorian for the class of 2017 at the Math, Science, Research and Technology High School (MAST HS) in the Campus Complex, Cambria Heights, is a very interesting person who was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the United States in 2013.
He is a poet and writer of short stories in perfect English. He loves to read and finds especially interesting the genre of myths, legends and stories of heroic and even ordinary people. He likes to write about current events, the irony of life and the feelings most people experience. He feels that reading broadens his vocabulary as well as enhances his writing skills.
In school, he is on the Campus Magnet Varsity Soccer and Volleyball teams, which take up a lot of his time. He is a versatile soccer plays who plays all positions—from goalie to forward—and helps the new players. He also sings in the glee club, has volunteered service through ARISTA, assisted students in Regents subjects, such as algebra, U.S. and global history, has been a peer leadership volunteer for younger students, performed community service by making dolls for children in hospitals through the 92nd Street Y, distributed food at the Allen AME Church’s food pantry and bought toys for children at the Jamaica Hospital Center.
Academically, Okpara has a 4.0 GPA, is on the school honor roll, has taken Advanced Placement (AP) college level classes, has perfect attendance and was Student of the Month. He would like to be a general physician and has been accepted to City College, Hunter, York, Brooklyn and Queens colleges. He is hoping to win a scholarship.
Okpara spoke of the people who have influenced his life: “My uncle and aunt have been a huge influence on my life, yet my family as a whole has molded me in their own way,” he said. “My aunt and uncle helped bring me to this land of opportunity and my parents taught me the rewards of hard work and persistence.”