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NA'SAH DABBS ’21

Born in Newburgh, New York, Na’Sah attended San Miguel Academy, a program that provides education opportunities to underserved communities in his hometown. He excelled there and received a scholarship to attend Canterbury School.

Na’Sah started his time at Canterbury as a shy, under-the-radar student, but it was not long before he began to embrace the hilltop for all that it had to offer. With the help of the Canterbury community, he became a leader, friend, and role model to his peers; enjoyed many new experiences; and made everlasting memories. He left his mark as a Dorm Proctor, Lead Ambassador, Student Events Committee Leader…as a member of the Sixth Form Council, DEIJ Council, Interfaith Council, AHANA (students of African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American descent), and Honor Society…and in many other ways. Na’Sah’s impact was felt so deeply that he received Edward F. Mack Awards for Outstanding Service as an Admissions Ambassador and Outstanding Contributions to Student Government. At graduation, he was also honored with the Class of 2021 Citizenship Award and the Dr. Nelson Hume Award presented to a Sixth Form student whose leadership, character, and achievements have been of the highest order.

After graduation, Na’Sah attended Boston College, where he is currently a junior majoring in Economics with a minor in Accounting for Finance and Consulting. He has also continued his work with the community as the Legacy Programmer for BC’s AHANA Leadership Council, Assistant Director of Live Entertainment for the Campus Activities Board, and a member of the Boston College Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He recently returned from spending his junior-year fall semester at the SAOS University of London, which is home to leading research and expertise on the global issues of today.

What advice would you give to high school students today?
Try as many things as possible and make the most of your opportunity. You will leave these experiences with a newfound passion, a new memory, or a lesson to learn from. Canterbury is truly a special place where the community will have your back no matter what. I went in extremely shy, but my friends encouraged me to break out of my comfort zone and attempt things I had never done before, such as Cross Country and the Student Events Committee. On the hilltop, you can be whoever you want to be and try things—and the entire community will stay by your side through the whole journey!

What is your favorite Canterbury memory?
My favorite memory took place during my last week there in the spring of 2021, as we were finishing the first full school year of the pandemic. At our Sixth Form Dance—which was held outdoors during our make-shift Senior Week—we all realized that our final year was coming to an end and this was one of the final moments we would ever spend together as a class. We began to hug each other, and then Don’t Stop Believing by Journey started playing. We formed a circle and sang at the top of our lungs, some of us smiling and others crying because of how much we loved and appreciated each other. It was like a scene out of a movie. After all that we had been through in that unprecedented year, we knew that no matter what the world took from us, we would always have each other. 

Has anyone in your life been a mentor to you? How did their advice help you?
A huge mentor that I have had in my life is former Canterbury faculty member Raheem Logan ’12. He is from the inner city of Harlem, which is plagued by violence and poverty, much like Newburgh. He showed me that the differences I have with my peers should not be hidden, but rather celebrated. I bring to the table a new perspective, and while I was at Canterbury to learn, I could also teach, present, and share the lessons from my life experiences that my peers might not have ever seen or thought about. His guidance helped me express all that I am to the Canterbury community and transformed me into the person I am today.

Which Canterbury faculty member had the greatest impact on you?
It is hard to say which faculty member has had the greatest impact on me since the Canterbury faculty care so much about each and every student as if they were their own kids! Some notable people were Mr. Dellorco, Mrs. EJ, Mrs. Garcia-LaVigne, Mr. Hagen, Mr. Logan, Mr. Niu, Mr. Omaña, Mr. Richardson—but I think the answer has to be Mrs. Omaña.

Mrs. Omaña is the type of person who gives even when there is no more to give and puts the needs of others before herself. She has been such an amazing support system and pushes me to develop myself as a person for the better. She is such a genuine person and always there to provide love, support, and laughter for me and many students across the Canterbury community. Love you, Mrs. Omaña!

What is something you learned at Canterbury that has stuck with you into adulthood?
I learned the importance of human experiences. No two people are exactly the same due in large part to the unique life experiences everyone goes through. Canterbury was the first time I was in a situation where I was not surrounded by those who looked like me and who shared similar experiences. Students from all parts of the world study at the School, and regardless of who they are, where they are from, or what they have done, their lives, opinions, and experiences are valid and meaningful. It is important to recognize that everyone has their own unique perspective on the world and that we can understand and learn from each other. This view on life has stuck with me as I believe that everyone’s story should be shared and appreciated.

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