This month, NY1 has been introducing viewers to exceptional high school graduates of the city's public schools. In NY1's latest report, Bronx reporter Erin Clarke tells us about a star student who came to the country just four years ago.
When Emmanuel Ankomah, the class valedictorian, spoke at Banana Kelly High School's graduation, most of the audience had no idea he had been struggling for years with a speech impediment.
"I stutter day in and day out," he said.
Or that just four years ago, he and his four siblings moved to the Bronx to live with their father, leaving their mother behind in their home country of Ghana, West Africa.
"Freshman year, it was kind of hard because I had to get accustomed to American education system," he said.
"He was very shy, very quiet, kept to himself," said school counselor Maria Muniz.
Since then, Ankomah has blossomed, overcoming all challenges from his stutter to his studies.
"He is the model student. He's here every single day," said principal Asya Johnson.
Always arriving to classes early, despite traveling about an hour to get to school.
"Every time I talk about where I live, they always question, like, how do I do it, like, how do I always come to school on time," Ankomah said.
"He's helpful to his teachers. He tutors students," Johnson said.
"I'm actually taking trig, and it's kind of hard for me, so he's helping me out so I can graduate," said student Tyshane Womack.
"He works with staff. He does just about anything that he can do," Johnson said.
Ankomah was student government president this year and was a member of the yearbook staff and photography club, to name a few extracurricular activities.
The self-proclaimed "community service guru" has racked up more than 500 volunteer hours, and as a sophomore, he traveled to Burkina Faso with a nonprofit to build a school.
"It was one of the most memorable moments of my life," Ankomah said. "To build a school and give back and to decrease the poverty rates."
Quite the resume for a West African immigrant who is now achieving the American Dream.
In the fall, Ankomah will attend the University of Wisconisin-Madison on a full scholarship.
"He's going to do great things," Johnson said. "I can't wait to hear about it."
Ankomah is thinking big. He hopes to become a neurosurgeon.