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Stefan Soh

3665

Bold Points

20x

Nominee

2x

Finalist

Bio

I am a high school senior with a 4.2 GPA who has taken 5 AP courses with scores high enough to earn credit. I am also an athlete who earned the opportunity to play for a top basketball prep academy. It was not an easy decision for me to leave my family and move to Pennsylvania; however, my family supports my goals and dreams and agreed because of my hard work and dedication to both my academics and athletics. I am a fortunate son of an immigrant from Cameroon - my dad is from there originally and he now serves in the US Foreign Service. My mom, who is 1 of 28 children born to a Black father & white mother, is the first in her family to attend college. It's because them that I have the drive and desire to help others. I have had the opportunity to visit many countries with them - from Congo to Peru to Tanzania to Switzerland - and gain awareness about the inequities so many in this world face. The stories I’ve heard about my family have motivated me to work on building a better life for myself regardless of the seemingly insurmountable odds I might sometimes face. What inspires me is an experience my mother had when she shared with her high school counselor her dream of attending one of America’s most prestigious universities. He told her repeatedly to only apply to local schools - to abandon such far-fetched dreams. However, she wouldn't allow others to place limitations on what she was capable of - and now, as a graduate from Duke Law, she is the epitome of what can be achieved when one doesn’t let oneself be discouraged by the limiting words and beliefs of others.

Education

Edgenuity Virtual Academy

High School
2023 - 2024

Carrboro High School

High School
2023 - 2023

First Love Christian Academy

High School
2022 - 2022

Carrboro High School

High School
2019 - 2022

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Psychology, Other
    • Business/Managerial Economics
    • Social Work
    • Psychology, General
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Public Policy

    • Dream career goals:

      Owner of an NBA/European Team; Lawyer; Professional Basketball Player

    • Summer Intern

      Cannataro Family Partners
      2021 – 2021
    • Volunteer

      D3 Community Outreach
      2020 – 20222 years
    • Production Crew Member

      Purple Bowl
      2022 – Present2 years

    Sports

    Basketball

    Club
    2019 – 20223 years

    Basketball

    Junior Varsity
    2019 – 20201 year

    Basketball

    Varsity
    2020 – Present4 years

    Research

    • Finance and Financial Management Services

      Cannataro Family Partners — Intern
      2021 – 2021

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      D3 Community Outreach — Volunteer
      2019 – 2022

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Philanthropy

    Entrepreneurship

    CEW IV Foundation Scholarship Program
    The examples of Black success stories tend to come from the entertainment world - rappers, athletes, musicians, etc., and they are supported by the Black community simply because they are Black and not necessarily based on how they achieved their success (or infamy in some cases). It’s as if these successful people cease to be individuals and instead become representatives and the voices for the entire Black community. In Black communities across the country, this shows up as many people trying to emulate these successful people by dressing like them, driving the same cars, or perfectly mimicking how their favorite celebrities present their lives on social media. This behavior can be quite damaging because wealth and material items are seen as the indicators of excellence rather than the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication it took to “make it.” In fact, it is not so much emulation as imitation - imitating the way their favorite celebrities dress, the way they speak, even going as far as copying their hairstyles. I’ve always understood why people admire such figures, but even at a young age I couldn’t help but think - why do people want to be exactly like them? When I was younger, I too often felt the pressure to conform to the norms/trends in my community. Not only did I want to fit in because of peer pressure - I also felt living up to the expectations of my friends would be the only way I could value myself as a person. Each year, all of my friends would buy certain articles of clothing that were trending. For example, when I was 15, it was Air Jordans - my friends would ask me why I didn’t have them or tell me what I was missing out on. Inevitably, I ended up buying multiple pairs, but they didn’t make me feel like Michael Jordan. Instead, they made me feel frustrated with myself for having given into peer pressure and for the fact that the shoes weren’t even that comfortable on my feet. For me, this is the main problem with the idea of “Black excellence.” It creates unrealistic standards of what it means to be successful as a Black person, leading to a dangerous cycle where Black people feel they must purchase specific items promoted by the Black community in solidarity with a Black celebrity. Ultimately, this vicious cycle only serves to impoverish already poor people because they’re repeatedly buying goods that they often cannot afford. It’s obvious that we need to place more emphasis on teaching young Black people to aspire to emulate the achievements of successful Black leaders and not their purchasing habits. However, it’s hard not to take into account how much this phenomenon has to do with how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life. When a group of people is denied access to institutional power, sometimes the only way to make something of one’s life is to acquire material goods and support ideas/causes simply because a Black celebrity has a megaphone.I do believe that becoming an example of “Black excellence” doesn’t have to involve purchasing luxury goods, releasing a hit record, or even becoming President of the United States. Instead, it can mean being supportive to those around you, studying hard for a test, and staying committed to goals even when others don’t believe in you or seek to tear you down.. I care less about “Black excellence” - I care about being excellent while Black and standing in solidarity with my Black peers to challenge each other, and aim higher.
    FLIK Hospitality Group’s Entrepreneurial Council Scholarship
    The examples of Black success stories tend to come from the entertainment world - rappers, athletes, musicians, etc., and they are supported by the Black community simply because they are Black and not necessarily based on how they achieved their success (or infamy in some cases). It’s as if these successful people cease to be individuals and instead become representatives and the voices for the entire Black community. In Black communities across the country, this shows up as many people trying to emulate these successful people by dressing like them, driving the same cars, or perfectly mimicking how their favorite celebrities present their lives on social media. This behavior can be quite damaging because wealth and material items are seen as the indicators of excellence rather than the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication it took to “make it.” In fact, it is not so much emulation as imitation - imitating the way their favorite celebrities dress, the way they speak, even going as far as copying their hairstyles. I’ve always understood why people admire such figures, but even at a young age I couldn’t help but think - why do people want to be exactly like them? When I was younger, I too often felt the pressure to conform to the norms/trends in my community. Not only did I want to fit in because of peer pressure - I also felt living up to the expectations of my friends would be the only way I could value myself as a person. Each year, all of my friends would buy certain articles of clothing that were trending. For example, when I was 15, it was Air Jordans - my friends would ask me why I didn’t have them or tell me what I was missing out on. Inevitably, I ended up buying multiple pairs, but they didn’t make me feel like Michael Jordan. Instead, they made me feel frustrated with myself for having given into peer pressure and for the fact that the shoes weren’t even that comfortable on my feet. For me, this is the main problem with the idea of “Black excellence.” It creates unrealistic standards of what it means to be successful as a Black person, leading to a dangerous cycle where Black people feel they must purchase specific items promoted by the Black community in solidarity with a Black celebrity. Ultimately, this vicious cycle only serves to impoverish already poor people because they’re repeatedly buying goods that they often cannot afford. It’s obvious that we need to place more emphasis on teaching young Black people to aspire to emulate the achievements of successful Black leaders and not their purchasing habits. However, it’s hard not to take into account how much this phenomenon has to do with how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life. When a group of people is denied access to institutional power, sometimes the only way to make something of one’s life is to acquire material goods and support ideas/causes simply because a Black celebrity has a megaphone. I do believe that becoming an example of “Black excellence” doesn’t have to involve purchasing luxury goods, releasing a hit record, or even becoming President of the United States. I plan to use a degree in finance to exemplify Black Excellence. Being a stable family man that wants to help out others. I also would like to use my degree to promote financial literacy to people of color and teach them how they can start growing generational wealth!
    Sunshine Legall Scholarship
    After going through all the things I've been through I want to use my degree as a platform to help change the seemingly small issues that I'm about to mention below and spread awareness of these issues to the black commuinity. Given my experiences living across the US, traveling the world, and having a Black immigrant father and mixed American mother, I have been exposed to many complex societal issues throughout my life - especially those faced by the Black community in America. Growing up, many of my Black friends would buy certain items simply because they were “trendy”, and I often felt bullied into purchasing things I didn’t want/need as a result. This may seem harmless, but the most problematic aspect of this dynamic is that young Black minds are often driven primarily by materialistic concerns and “fitting in”. This creates unrealistic standards of success for Black people, therefore further perpetuating the glorification of consumerism. It’s hard not to understand how much this phenomenon is connected to how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life. When a group of people is denied access to institutional power, sometimes they compensate by pursuing success through the acquisition of material goods. It’s obvious that we need to emphasize teaching young Black people to aspire to emulate the achievements of successful Black leaders and not their purchasing habits. That means we, as a community, must be supportive of colleagues and stay committed to goals even when others, Black or otherwise, denounce us. If you study history and contemporary issues, tensions exist in the Black community about how to effect change. Often, someone is considered an activist only if they demonstrate their support for a cause by protesting in their towns/cities. On the other hand, I see an ever-increasing need for people within the Black community to work within political and legal structures. I’d like to see both groups understand they need each other to guide America in a positive direction - in its streets, courtrooms, boardrooms, and political offices. It’s obvious that the glorification of consumerism is not healthy for the Black community (or any community for that matter). It’s obvious that we need to place more emphasis on teaching young Black people to aspire to emulate the achievements of successful Black leaders and not their purchasing habits. However, it’s hard not to take into account how much this phenomenon has to do with how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life. When a group of people is denied access to institutional power, sometimes the only way to make something of one’s life is to acquire material goods and support ideas/causes simply because a Black celebrity has a megaphone. Blind support of anything can be very dangerous. I do believe that becoming an example of “Black excellence” doesn’t have to involve purchasing luxury goods, releasing a hit record, or even becoming President of the United States. Instead, it can mean being supportive to those around you, studying hard for a test, and staying committed to goals even when others don’t believe in you or seek to tear you down. I care less about “Black excellence” - I care about being excellent while Black and standing in solidarity with my Black brothers and sisters to challenge each other, work collaboratively, and aim higher. I will exemplify black excellence and inspire others to do it the same way.
    Dema Dimbaya Humanitarianism and Disaster Relief Scholarship
    As the child of an African immigrant father from Cameroon and a mixed African-American mother, I've been exposed to many of the complex societal issues faced by the Black community in America since birth. With this background comes interesting tensions within my identity, and my observations have led me to wonder what the “Black American Dream” actually means to me and how I can shape it for myself. It’s a powerful metaphor in both a positive and negative sense: it can be something that provides inspiration and builds self-esteem and confidence, or can create unrealistic standards of success (often based on a few high-achieving individuals) that are harmful to the Black community and slow society’s progress towards equality among all races. Essentially, it’s created a notion of “Black excellence” that doesn’t always celebrate the actual Black experience - rather, it can often separate an individual from the group in a false way. Because we revere these false idols and don’t simply celebrate the accomplishments of Black people as “human achievements'' but rather “Black achievements”, societal progress is limited. Such emphasis on the Black American Dream can also ignore the diversity within the Black community, oversimplifying and homogenizing the experiences of Black individuals. It’s such a totalizing metaphor for success that it leaves no room for any deviation from it, which can feel suffocating and leave Black people with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem for not living up to the “standard”, which I’ve experienced in my life. Then, when I consider how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life, it is understandable how my community has sometimes tried to compensate by pursuing success through fame, consumerism, “street cred” - creating unrealistic and unhealthy standards of success for Black people. What can be done to counteract this? A way to remedy this is to emphasize teaching Black youth not to aspire to mirror the purchasing habits of the successful for example, but to emulate the behaviors that have helped them achieve their success. For this reason, I volunteered as a construction worker as part of a local community center development project where people from my underprivileged neighborhood could receive vocational training in a wide range of skills. I’ve also been mentoring an African friend I met while traveling in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the last three years, I’ve helped him discover what makes him a unique prospect both academically and athletically. While the standard of “Black excellence” can sometimes create false idols, I believe that through participation in projects both large and small, we as a community and I as an individual can be supportive of each other to stay committed to meaningful progress and non-superficial goals - even when others, Black or otherwise, don’t believe in us or mock us for choosing a different path. Ultimately, we need to continue dreaming, and find metaphors that express those dreams - as Langston Hughes wrote, when we lose our dreams, “life is a barren field/frozen with snow.”
    Mochahope Black Excellence Scholarship
    When my ex-basketball coach was arrested for multiple violent felonies last year, my teammates and I were left shocked, betrayed, and leaderless. We knew right away that the year would be an uphill struggle and challenge to overcome. All my life, basketball has been my creative outlet: a means of escaping an often harsh reality, helping me get through difficult times. But there was no escaping the ramifications of my coach’s actions. We knew it would be up to us alone to deal with this situation. During uncertainty, my teammates now looked to me as Captain to take charge and lead the team despite this mess. This wasn’t the first time a prominent male role model in my life had let me down. For inspiration and guidance, I’ve often had to look elsewhere. For instance, the stories I’ve heard about my family have motivated me to work on building a better life for myself regardless of the seemingly insurmountable odds I may face. As a young man, my grandfather aspired to be a lawyer; but when his teachers told him that “n****** don’t go to college’, he was left discouraged from pursuing this dream. My mother faced discouragement when she shared with her guidance counselor she wanted to attend an Ivy League school. Repeatedly he told her to only apply to local schools, However, she wouldn't allow to limit her capabilities - and now, as a graduate from Duke Law, she is the epitome of what can be achieved when one doesn’t let oneself be discouraged by the limiting beliefs of others. With the team in disarray, I realized that someone needed to step up and provide the leadership that our team desperately required; and that someone needed to be me. Firstly, without a coach in place, I knew it would be up to me to organize our practices. Waking up at 4am every morning to lay out cones for shooting drills in the gym across town was exhausting at first, but I soon found a rhythm. Secondly, I took on the responsibility of keeping my teammates motivated and engaged by creating a practice timetable and scheduling one-to-one sessions with individual players to mentor them. I also organized team-bonding activities like bowling to help us build a spirit of camaraderie. In the wider community, I got involved in the construction of a gym development project designed to provide athletic facilities for local underprivileged youth. While pouring and spreading concrete for the building’s foundation, the scorching Carolina sun beating down on me, I realized I’d found another passion. No matter how long those days were nor how exhausting the work was, knowing that I was involved in a project that would change the lives of kids like me brought me such satisfaction. I know what it feels like to be discarded, mistreated by those you look to for guidance and support. For this reason, I am determined to always be a pillar of strength for those that need me: my family, my friends, my teammates, my community. Strangely, the adversity I experienced during this last year was a learning experience - it taught me how to motivate my teammates, be a leader, and contribute to my local community in a meaningful way. Moving forward, I aim to use the skills I acquired during this tumultuous period to effect change on a larger scale: to not only achieve great things myself but to help motivate others to overcome difficult circumstances and ensure that no child, no community is ever left behind. I look forward to applying my tenacity and grit in college.
    Maverick Grill and Saloon Scholarship
    As the child of an African immigrant father from Cameroon and a mixed African-American mother, I've been exposed to many of the complex societal issues faced by the Black community in America since birth. With this background comes interesting tensions within my identity, and my observations have led me to wonder what the “Black American Dream” actually means to me and how I can shape it for myself. It’s a powerful metaphor in both a positive and negative sense: it can be something that provides inspiration and builds self-esteem and confidence, or can create unrealistic standards of success (often based on a few high-achieving individuals) that are harmful to the Black community and slow society’s progress towards equality among all races. Essentially, it’s created a notion of “Black excellence” that doesn’t always celebrate the actual Black experience - rather, it can often separate an individual from the group in a false way. Because we revere these false idols and don’t simply celebrate the accomplishments of Black people as “human achievements'' but rather “Black achievements”, societal progress is limited. Such emphasis on the Black American Dream can also ignore the diversity within the Black community, oversimplifying and homogenizing the experiences of Black individuals. It’s such a totalizing metaphor for success that it leaves no room for any deviation from it, which can feel suffocating and leave Black people with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem for not living up to the “standard”, which I’ve experienced in my life. Then, when I consider how historically disenfranchised Black people have been in all areas of public life, it is understandable how my community has sometimes tried to compensate by pursuing success through fame, consumerism, “street cred” - creating unrealistic and unhealthy standards of success for Black people. What can be done to counteract this? A way to remedy this is to emphasize teaching Black youth not to aspire to mirror the purchasing habits of the successful for example, but to emulate the behaviors that have helped them achieve their success. For this reason, I volunteered as a construction worker as part of a local community center development project where people from my underprivileged neighborhood could receive vocational training in a wide range of skills. I’ve also been mentoring an African friend I met while traveling in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the last three years, I’ve helped him discover what makes him a unique prospect both academically and athletically. While the standard of “Black excellence” can sometimes create false idols, I believe that through participation in projects both large and small, we as a community and I as an individual can be supportive of each other to stay committed to meaningful progress and non-superficial goals - even when others, Black or otherwise, don’t believe in us or mock us for choosing a different path. Ultimately, we need to continue dreaming, and find metaphors that express those dreams - as Langston Hughes wrote, when we lose our dreams, “life is a barren field/frozen with snow.”