Design by McKenna Dunn
Harvard University, renowned as one of the most prestigious institutions in the world, is home to roughly 6,800 undergraduate students. As students around the world graduate from secondary schools, some will attend the university. One of the undergraduates they will be welcoming this year is senior Jaeschel Acheampong, who has plans to continue his track career there.
Millions of teens participate in school athletics, but Acheampong is not any ordinary student among that sea of athletes. It’s not an everyday occurrence for Harvard to accept students, so this accomplishment makes him stand out even more.
He realized his potential before joining track. “I got into track because of my church friends. We’d always sneak out and play soccer or football after the service and whenever we’d play, I would always be one of the fastest people,” Acheampong said.
With his team, he’s determined and confident in its ability to perform. “As a team, we’re going for state. All the way. This is probably the best team Orange has had, so if we all stay diligent, we can win it all,” Acheampong said.
Currently, his events are long jump, triple jump, 100m dash, 200m dash, 4x200, 4x100 and 4x400. His goals include staying healthy and improving. “[My] No. 1 goal is to stay 100 percent healthy the whole time. But my other goals are to repeat last year in long jump and score in more events this year,” Acheampong said. His coach also has a lot to say about him.
According to science teacher and Head Coach Adam Walters, Acheampong has school records in long jump, triple jump and the 100 meter dash. He is also the 2019 long jump state champion and a two time regional long jump champion. “He is an all-around student athlete and leader,” Walters said.
“He’s a state champ and one of the best in the country in the long jump, but he’s so humble that you wouldn’t know. He helps all levels of teammates and that’s what makes him exceptional,” Walters said. Acheampong has an inner drive to be the best, which is what makes him stand out.
One obstacle for Acheampong was the recruiting process.
“I would say that the recruiting process was very stressful but that is [because of] me. I told people my options and the schools I could’ve potentially gone to. Everyone gave their opinion, pulling me in different directions. I’m grateful for everyone but during that time, but it seemed like everyone wanted what was best for me and forgot that I wanted what was best for me too,” Acheampong said.
His decision to choose Harvard was rooted in several factors. “A couple weeks before I decided, I read a tweet which said something along the lines of ‘whatever decision scares you the most is probably what’s going to improve you the most’. Also, I looked at the top jumpers at all the schools and where they are today. I would say Harvard lines up more with where I want my future to go, so I chose them,” Acheampong said.
Acheampong has so many more accomplishments beyond athletics. Walters said that academics, church and club involvement all played a role in the recruitment process. “He’s a fun kid to coach because he makes everyone around him better and makes people smile,” Walters said.
Many things are in store for Acheampong, because of his character and his determination to be the best. As Harvard University welcomes him in a few months, that inner drive and character will continue to make him flourish as a student athlete.