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Excel Alumnus Feature: Kevin Kurgat

Name: Kevin KurgatKevin Kurgart Excel Charter alumni
NHA School: Excel Charter Academy
High School: Grand River Preparatory High School (Class of 2018)
College: Harvard University (Fall 2018)
Favorite NHA memory?
My fondest memory of Excel was taking nature walks during our bird unit in eighth-grade science. My teacher, Mr. Smith, would take us outside and we would walk around the school listening for bird calls. I fell in love with the Mourning Dove’s call and attempted to emulate the sound each time we went outside. One day, I got a response back from a bird on the other side of the street. Since then, I get excited every time I hear that bird’s call and remember the fun we had in eighth-grade science.
What were you involved in outside the classroom?
I loved being a part of Excel’s cross country and soccer teams, so much so that I participated all three years of middle school. I also was a baritone player in the band, an avid student ambassador, and a school spelling bee champ.
How do you feel your NHA school prepared you for high school/college?
Going to an NHA school set the precedent for me as a student to make college an expectation, rather than an option. I was introduced to the benefits a college degree would have on my career/life before I got to middle school and was encouraged to take steps to find the perfect college for my areas of interest. Early introduction set me up for success because I then was building my academic profile at the beginning of high school. Excel stressed the importance of academic excellence and its curriculum was challenging to the point where I could develop a solid work ethic at home.
What advice would you give to current NHA students?
Be uncomfortable. I learned the lessons that have resonated the longest, and met people whose relationships helped me the most, when I put myself in situations where I was out of my comfort zone. In middle school, and even high school, there were times where I wasn’t adequately challenged in my regular classes or extracurriculars, so I took part in activities outside of school that prompted me to grow personally and intellectually.
When time passes and you feel that you are not growing as a person, take initiative and look for something that can grow you. All the programs I took part in gave me experiences that shaped who I am today and instilled in me a work ethic that has never failed me. Staying busy and being unafraid to take on new challenges that set you up for success can open doors for you that you didn't know existed.

About Excel Charter Academy
Excel Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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