Hitting the road: Andy’s 30

Andy Degrasse

When I was accepted into LASA, I was excited because it is such a renowned program, but I was still hesitant to attend because I expected it to be a more difficult version of what I had experienced in elementary and middle school. At that time, I felt that the school system as a whole was too standardized and most of my peers shared my lack of enthusiasm.

It didn’t take long for my expectations of LASA to be shattered. The teachers and students were nothing like the ones at my previous schools. Instead of teaching directly from the state-mandated curriculum, LASA teachers create their own unique and creative lessons. Teachers at LASA put thought and care into their classes, and in turn, the students do the same with their classwork.

I was inspired to further explore the academic subjects that I found interesting. I enjoy writing and politics, so I decided to join Newspaper and Model UN. In these organizations, I met people who shared my interests and were more than willing to help me develop my knowledge of these subjects. In this setting, I enjoyed learning more than I ever had before, and I looked for ways to become more involved.

Attending LASA has given me the chance to learn about subjects that truly fascinate me, and to seek out others who share my passion. Thanks to this opportunity, I have been able to thrive academically and become a leader in Newspaper and Model UN. I now see that when I am surrounded by those who love to learn, education is no longer a chore, but something I cherish and enjoy.

That was the good side of LASA. Now let’s discuss the not so good parts. Over my years at LASA, I have probably had at least 5 nervous breakdowns, and countless other times where I felt on the edge of one. To say that there is a lot of work here does not even begin to explain the issue. The culture of LASA normalizes extreme stress. It is seen as cool to push yourself to the extreme in the name of good grades, and people who don’t are often looked down upon. It is virtually impossible to achieve a healthy balance between grades and your social life. And forget about it if you have any kinds of hobbies or non academic interests. I know countless extremely smart people who have been forced to stifle their passions because they don’t fit into their LASA schedule. LASA’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t give students any real chance to express their creativity and nurture their passions in a school setting, and instead fills their time with academic tasks that are stimulating, but not as creative.

As many of you know, I go by the pseudonym of Yung Nugget, where I make rap music. One of my proudest accomplishments is being able to create a successful music career while simultaneously going to such an academically stressful school. I have a real love for music that goes beyond just Yung Nugget, and it has taken a lot of work to prevent the extreme stress of LASA from stamping out this passion. If I can offer LASA students on piece of advice, it would be to pursue your creative passions with all your heart. You never know just how much you can achieve unless you try.