Park Center Senior High School graduate Curtis Kokuloku and his family moved from Liberia to the United States in October, 2016. Kokuloku was 13 years old, but was already in 11th grade before he set foot on American soil.
“Prior to moving to the U.S., I attended a private Catholic school in Liberia called St. Pius X Catholic School, and during that year, I was in the 11th grade,” he said. “I know it is extremely hard to believe that a kid at the age of 13 was in 11th grade, but because of my hard work and dedication, I was promoted to the next grade multiple times. However, when my family and I moved to the U.S., I was dropped down to the 8th grade because ‘it was the best fit for me.’ Over the years, I decided that it was not a bad thing.”
Kokuloku first lived in St. Paul before moving to Brooklyn Park.
His memories of Liberia are somewhat blurry, since he spent his time there as child, Kokuloku said.
“I remember it being very different than life in the U.S., and a lot less complicated than it is now,” he said. “Although, life in Africa is definitely harder because of poverty, diseases, and pollution, but fortunately for my family and I, we got to come to the U.S. and explore better opportunities.”
Kokuloku has since taken full advantage of those new opportunities, describing himself as an overachiever.
“I believe that I’m an overachiever because growing up it was either you do a great job, or you don’t do a great job,” Kokuloku said. “There was no middle ground. And because my parents wanted my siblings and I to succeed, they encouraged us to always try our best and do an excellent job. That has definitely made me the person I am today because in everything I do, I go above and beyond.”
He is graduating as a member of the National Honor Society with plans to attend the University of Minnesota with a computer science major. With the Honor Society, he volunteered in the community, helping to chaperone blood drives.
“It was always my goal to graduate with honors, and I am proud and honored to have achieved that goal,” he said. “I am part of the first generation in my family to attend college in the United States. … It feels extremely amazing.”
He also played middle linebacker on the Park Center varsity football team for two years.
Kokuloku first became interested in computer science as a child. “I would spend majority of my time with my older brother and his friends while they do their homework, and learn about programming languages,” he said. “I remember when one of his friends first taught me about encryption and decryption.”
His classes at Park Center helped advance his interest in computer science.
“One of the classes that definitely furthered my interest in working with computers was mathematics, which includes algebra, trigonometry, calculus, and I.B. Math,” he said.
“I believe that my experience with solving difficult math problems furthered my interest because both math and computers have a tendency of being extremely complex. Other classes that furthered my interest in working with computers were web design, computer science and engineering, and P.C. maintenance and repair. These classes helped me better understand the fundamentals of computers and how to solve some problems that may show up on a computer.”
After college, Kokuloku is interested in becoming a software engineer.
“I will definitely miss my friends, teachers, and the community that I have helped build,” he said. “To my fellow classmates at Park Center, I would like to say congratulations! We have come a long way, and we’ve all done an amazing job. There are more obstacles ahead, so keep it up!”
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