Have you ever heard the cliche that success comes with hard work? Or generally the phrase that ‘’improvement requires some serious conviction and will’’?
I know the second one may sound a little strange and vague, but that summarizes what I had to do to get to where I am at today, not only academically but in life. Let me elaborate more on my academic and social jump from what one would consider ‘’the class dummy’’ and a very reserved person to the outgoing and academically exceptional individual that I am today. I can say for one, that it simply was not just run-of-the-mill activities that coincidentally brought me to this standing point.
The old school I attended from Kindergarten through ninth grade was originally called Renaissance Advantage Charter school but, however due to a shift in the management of the school and the desire to have the name after the recent senator Hardy Williams, It is now called Hardy Williams Academy Mastery Charter School. I felt very comfortable going into my freshman year at Hardy, which seemed like my senior year in the sense that we were in the same building as K-8, so I had a strong feeling of maturity going in and not remembering the fact that I was still just a freshman. I was prideful in fact and I felt as though I was one of the most intelligent and brightest of students among the entire student body, and most of all I was optimistic that due to Mastery principles and implements, I thought that my classmates and the student body would change. No more people disrupting in-class learning or just creating an overall unhealthy school environment for both the teachers and other students.
Through my experiences at Hardy, I observed that kindergarten was fine, elementary school was okay(though a few bump and grinds); however, when middle school hit, that was when the peer pressure and the distractions came. What worsened it was that the fact that many of my classmates came from unscrupulous, one parent households that was centered around ghetto principles. I needed to realize that it was never any of my classmates’ fault that they came from these types of families and environments because I realized getting older that people were products of their own environment. And as I succeeded into high school, these ghetto principles still surrounded me and the more I was around them, the more I wanted to dress like a ghetto person, talk like a ghetto person, act like a ghetto person, you name it. I was easily goaded into doing stupid things which would certainly prove troubling for my academic career and even life.
My classmates noticed that I was not fixated on all the wrong things like girls, money, or just acting like a fool in general, so this is what made me stand out in a predominantly black neighborhood school. I am an original first generation African immigrant, and I had not grown around the customs of what my fellow classmates at Hardy conformed too. I was always taught that education was the most valuable thing in life and my love of learning was a reflection of that. I appeared to be one of them, but my behavior shown otherwise, you could say that I did not ‘’fit the stereotypes’’, and this was seen as perverse in the eyes of a student body like this. In effect, I was ousted from group conversations, people did not really desire my company, and I was mocked and often patronized for being a ‘’good student’’.
These effects did not only exhort me to develop a bad temper, but It increased my desire to be just like everybody else. Let’s not forget that Human beings are social creatures and we have an innate yearning to be apart of the group or be actively engaged in conversations and social interactions, so I did what was necessary to find this sense of social fulfillment. Even if it meant risking my academic record and reputation. It was finally half through the school year after many unpleasant ordeals that I declared I could no longer be apart of such a school system and I had to find a school where my academic energy and drive would be appreciated. Not to mention my school, which was still just a new high school, was devoid of an abundant of extracurricular opportunities and electives that would prove beneficial in preparation for college.
Ever since I was young I had aspirations to become a doctor, I declared at 13, in 7th grade at Hardy, that I would become a neurosurgeon against my dearest friend who declared he would become a cardiac surgeon. So we vied to get on the path of those aspirations, not being aware or having knowledge of any of the components demanded for that field of education, so later at 16, I narrowed my choices to just becoming a doctor and officially sacrificing myself and my mind for only that goal, because I believe that god wanted me to become a doctor. I am a devout Christian and I was taught that if god called you to do something, you would have to sacrifice your soul, body, and mind to fulfill that request.
So I realized that if I did not get myself in order or find a way to adjust my circumstances and get on the right path, I would never achieve such an aspiration. So I decided, that the following year I would admit to SLA, seemingly only a dream school to me from the description of my neighborhood friend Jovan Lewis. I was enamored by SLA and my desire to attend it increased. I figured, this was the school that would help me achieve my goals, what more could I want? A science school, I loved science, a school with no uniform(not really a significant factor in my desire to be admitted), and most importantly I did not have to be constricted by the Mastery principles which consisted of complete quietness during classwork or lessons with all fixed times for questions and discussions. Because of that, I went out of my way vigorously to be admitted into SLA, even if that meant constantly asking my friend Jovan, who attended SLA, questions and digging deep to find information about SLA.
I was so elated after being accepted into SLA that I was yelling in the ear of my acceptance caller (Jeremy Spry). Frankly, when I initially came into SLA, I thought I was going to be okay, the first thought that went through my head was ‘’Ahhh, nothing to worry about, I’ll be ok, I’m going to show these people what I’m all about’’. At my old school, I was top dog, I acquired nearly every award at my eighth grade graduation including the principal award. I’d always be the one to answer questions and give constructive feedback during class discussions and my classmates admired me for it. This increased my confidence profoundly, even when going into SLA.
However, when it actually came down to it, after cycling around many classes within my first week at SLA, I found myself lost on every subject. I barely understood the material that was being taught and I barely raised my hand to answer questions, that normally if a teacher would ask, I would be able to swiftly answer. Consequently, my grades reflected on this and I was failing more than one class with interim reports left and right for my first two quarters. I was confounded by the amount of knowledge my classmates possessed on many levels; I was in disbelief that I, Osman Bangura, was being outperformed tremendously.
Soon enough I realized I had to adjust and find a way to improve and meet expectations. So after much pondering over a stretched period of time and experimentation, I devised a convenient study plan in which allowed me to study extensively and successively, and also I realized I would need to be reading more because these were crucial skills that I was lacking: reading and studying. Soon enough, after making these adjustments, I began noticing the positive effects that it had in my life, which changed my experience and student life at SLA.
I began actively engaging in class discussion, and my vocabulary, verbal fluency and grades automatically increased, in addition I became very studious. All the effects of my hard work, I never had to work as hard at Mastery because the work given to me was definitely not as hard and thought provoking. I gotten nearly all As from the third Quarter of my sophomore year at SLA and my classmates began to see me differently and even compliment at times whenever I made sensible arguments or answers.That was then truly began to realize that I was not a failure or stupid, and simply that anything in life that is worthwhile requires conviction, desire, and ardor- all conventions that led to my current position.
It took stone cold hard work and a willingness to change. If I never wanted to change, I wouldn't put myself in a position to be subjected to such dynamics in the first place. For example, I didn't have to change schools or change the people who I associated with, I could have stayed at my old position and not have experienced a single change; however, it was not long before I realized that it not just on the case of whether or not I wanted to change anymore, it was that I needed to change. I always knew that I was intelligent, but I did not ever get enough encouragement or support needed to unleash this intelligence. From the starting of the school year in 2013, (when I first transferred into SLA) to where I am now I realized that I had culminated greatly.