Tysean Canada (Nottingham, 2019) is former basketball player from an athletic family who broke the mold to set aside sports and concentrate on academics. In 2018 when he was a junior, Tysean helped take the Nottingham varsity basketball team all the way to the NYSPHSAA Section III Class AA finals, where they lost by only four points. Although Tysean feels this was his greatest high school accomplishment, the 6 foot 5 inch tall athlete chose a different path in his final year of high school, devoting himself to intellectual pursuits.
Along with great success came even greater challenges, and Tysean says junior year was the hardest part of his high school journey. Between three-hour practices and a heavy load of homework, he had a hard time finding balance or maintaining a social life. After some soul searching, Tysean knew he had a difficult choice to make. “In 12th grade I wanted to really focus on school, and make sure I got into all the colleges I wanted to,” he said. In some ways, Tysean wishes he made the decision sooner, and he encourages incoming freshman to take a hard look at their priorities.
“If what you want to do is definitely what you want to do, pursue it 100 percent and put your all into it,” said Tysean. “And also don’t let that take you away from school because school is a key part. I wish I knew that coming in, because then other colleges would’ve probably been on my list, to say the least.”
Tysean’s sacrifice paid off. He was a National Honor Society member and high honor roll student, meaning he maintained a grade point average above 95%. Tysean was also a Le Moyne College Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) scholar, a member of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and a Sigma Beta Club member. He will attend Syracuse University in the fall to study computer engineering.
Stepping back from basketball also helped Tysean work through aspects of his background that he struggled with. “It helped me become more mature and deal with a lot of adversity,” he said. “Everyone has their trials and tribulations, it’s just about how you deal with them. My trial is really my father’s absence, and I kind of just deal with it because my mom is always there for me. She took his role I guess, and I prosper because of it.”
As the baby of a large family, Tysean is very close with his siblings and lights up with pride when he talks about them. “My sister is about to become a doctor,” he said. “My brother is a manager at Hertz right now; my other sister is about to become an English teacher; my other brother works at an engineering firm in Rochester. Basically this life is a blessing, that’s all I can say.”
Favorite thing about your school? “I appreciate this school because it has free SUPA credits. Honestly, what other school could you really go to outside the city schools that has free SUPA credits? You can’t beat that.”
If you could go back and give one piece of advice to yourself on the first day of freshman year, what would you say? “Take all your classes seriously. Colleges care about everything.”
What quality do you love most about yourself? “My courage.”
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