AGE: 23
HOMETOWN: Accra, Ghana
WORK: Student at Cornell University

Born in Accra, Ghana, Kwadwo Nyarko migrated with his three brothers to join their parents in Bronx, New York, at the age of 5. From watching the American television series Knight Rider, Kwadwo developed an intense appreciation and passion for technology. At the age of 7, Kwadwo wanted to build Kitt - an artificially intelligent car that was featured on Knight Rider. Keeping up with his ambition, Kwadwo is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Computer Science at Cornell University.

At the age of 14, while attending the Bronx Prep Charter School, Kwadwo visited the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the first time. The visit convinced him that MIT, often regarded as the world’s best technology school, was where he needed to be. At age 18, after 4 years of unrelenting drive, passion and hard work, Kwadwo matriculated at MIT. With his eyes still set on building his very own Kitt, Kwadwo pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering. In his freshman year, Kwadwo joined MIT’s Electric Vehicle team. He spent the subsequent summer helping the team convert an internal combustion Mercury Milan into a battery electric vehicle. Surprisingly, at the end of his sophomore year, Kwadwo switched into MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) department after taking a Java programming class. After the switch, he competed in multiple programming competitions, including MIT’s web development competition, where he and his team won multiple awards.

Kwadwo also interned at a variety of companies, ranging from large corporations such as Microsoft to small startup companies like Lark Technologies. In his senior year, Kwadwo took MIT’s Principles and Practices of Assistive Technology course, where he witnessed firsthand the transformative power of technology on people’s lives. His team developed an iPad application that assisted a multiple sclerosis patient with operating and adjusting her hospital bed. Realizing the enormous contributions he could make to the world through software, Kwadwo decided to set his sights on serving the world through technology. Outside of school, Kwadwo is developing a website that helps students prepare for technical interviews. The project came out of CODE2040’s summer 2013 Hack for Diversity Hackathon, where he and his team won first place.

Living by the philosophy of paying it forward, Kwadwo is also very passionate about mentoring and inspiring young people. His long term plans and ambitions include starting a company in the US and contributing to Africa’s development process through technology.

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