BA, Political Science
Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership
When he was four, Brooklyn-born Oluwadamisi (Kay) Atanda's Nigerian immigrant parents decided to send him back to their West African homeland. "My parents believed that in order for me to truly appreciate the opportunities in the United States, it was important that I experienced life in another part of the world, outside of the U.S.," he recalled.
Growing up in Lagos, a bustling city of nearly eight million that is starkly defined by small pockets of wealth amid searing poverty, did just that.
Kay returned to New York for college in 2010, inspired to succeed academically. A standout at Queensborough Community College, he transferred to CCNY in fall 2012 with no letup in his drive to excel. He has earned honors galore, including the Pearson National Prize for Higher Education and the Josephine de Karman Fellowship, en route to a BA in political science summa cum laude with a 3.90 GPA. This semester, he received the Ward Medal, given to the best overall student in political science. He will also be the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership's valedictorian.
A summer 2013 White House intern, Kay was just named a 2014 Thomas R. Pickering Graduate Foreign Affairs Fellow. The award will cover tuition for graduate school at Columbia University, and a position in the Foreign Service awaits him once he receives his master's degree.
He remains indebted to his parents for his accomplishments. "I'm very grateful for all of the lessons they instilled in me as a child – important lessons in hard work and compassion," he said. "It gave me a unique perspective on life; to never give up on my goals and always be grateful along the way."
“My parents believed that in order for me to truly appreciate the opportunities in the United States, it was important that I experienced life in another part of the world.”