Ahmed Muhammed is the pride of his family. The 18-year-old will next month be Oakland Technical High School’s first Black male valedictorian in its 106-year history. He has also been accepted into 11 top universities to which he applied including Harvard and Stanford.
“Being named valedictorian is a dream come true,” he said. “I hope that me being class valedictorian inspires others from similar backgrounds to do the same.”
The High School senior scored a cumulative GPA of 4.73 throughout high school with hopes of finishing with a 5.0 GPA in his senior year. Out of the 11 universities he got accepted to, he is likely to choose Harvard, Stanford, Princeton or Columbia, where he will major in engineering, according to San Francisco Chronicle. “It feels amazing,” Muhammad shared. “I’m grateful to be accepted to any single college, but 11 of them? I had never imagined this.”
He has not only excelled academically but has also been doing well on the basketball court for his school’s varsity basketball team.
What’s more, during the pandemic, he founded the non-profit Kits Cubed (now a company), which offers science experiment kits to grade school-aged students. The student entrepreneur founded the nonprofit to discourage young people, particularly those from underserved communities, from thinking that they can’t be scientists.
The teen’s aim is to get his learning kits in the hands of every young scientist in Oakland. He had founded Kits Cubed while babysitting his younger niece and nephew during the pandemic. Muhammad once asked them to work on some science projects, but they refused, saying they were not good at the subject. At that moment, Muhammad decided to use simple science experiments to prove them wrong.
“We went to the store together and I had them pick out potatoes, and then I went to the hardware store to buy some copper nails, some galvanized nails, and some wire and we made a battery out of it,” he told CNN.
Muhammad was able to convince them that they were not bad at science. He then decided to share that with the community. That gave birth to Kits Cubed. With the help of his teachers, Muhammad designed science kits geared toward elementary school students.
Following media reports, scores of organizations and individuals, including former NFL star and Oakland Tech alumnus Marshawn Lynch, contacted Muhammad to offer their support. Then came a partnership with Oakland-based non-profit Seneca Family of Agencies, which provided Muhammad with tools to expand as well as office space.
Today, Kits Cubed is an official company that has also started working in partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers to create a virtual science program for kids. So far, Muhammad has distributed hundreds of his kits to schools around Oakland. The kits are also available for online purchase for $15. Each includes three experiments, hence the name Kits Cubed.
“There’s so much to learn before picking a single path,” he explained to KTVU, adding, “My work at Kits Cubed has also taught me the value of interdisciplinary studies, so I plan on studying concepts such as Public Policy and Urban Studies outside of my intended engineering focus.”
Muhammad and his siblings got all the kind of support they could from their parents to succeed academically. Their parents themselves did not attend college, however.
Muhammad’s father is a retired captain who spent 30 years with the Oakland Fire Department while his mother immigrated from Cambodia. The two started a real estate business together while teaching their children hard work and determination.
His advice to everyone is to never stop dreaming no matter how difficult things may seem.
“My advice is to never stop dreaming, and while in pursuit of your dreams, make sure to implement a foundation in your life that can serve you no matter what it is you want to accomplish,” Oakland Tech’s Class of 2021 valedictorian shared, adding, “Dreams are powerful and dynamic, and by having a foundation of good habits, you’ll be able to achieve your wildest dreams even as they, and you, change.”