Student Spotlight — Yousuf Shafiu

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Shreya Chaudhary, Editor in-Chief, Staff Writer

Every morning, I can always trust Yousuf to excitedly greet me with a smile (albeit masked) and excitedly tell me about some cool new mathematical theorem or a quality dad joke. Yousuf Shafiu, a current Keystone senior and mathematics, physics, and engineering enthusiast, first entered Keystone sophomore year and is now actively involved in robotics, math club, science bowl, debate, and more. 

Yousuf’s story starts in the University of Florida hospital where he was born. He then moved to Del Rio, spending a total of ten years of his life there. While attending private school there, he was advised to skip 1st grade by the school. When describing the move, Yousuf called it mainly awkward but not a huge move, as the second-grade classroom was connected by a door to the first-grade classroom. All it took was walking through it. After learning his private school was closing, Yousuf then transferred to public school for the very first time. There, he fell in love with the middle school’s engineering program and joined the high school’s FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team, eventually going to the world championship his first year. 

Yousuf with his friend Nicolas Sandoval

Yousuf attributes his love for engineering to the said courses and club. Voice saturated with joy, he explained how he built robots with VEX IQ and apps with MIT App Inventor, along with learning much of his knowledge of Autodesk Inventor, a type of Computer-Aided Design (CAD). Upon joining the robotics team, Yousuf thought he would focus more on the software side but instead fell in love with hardware and building, and he’s infinitely glad he did. That year, his team won Chairman’s, the most prestigious FRC award, qualifying them for the world championship (“world’s”) in Houston. With a sparkle in his eyes, Yousuf explained how world’s was an experience like no other: there were people from all over the world competing and occasionally dancing to the music blaring throughout. When there were two remaining teams, everyone would go to a nearby baseball stadium, watching the final competition like a true “sport.” 

His two other passions, mathematics and physics, came more organically. Ever since he was young, Yousuf’s father bought him several math books, and through participating in several competitions, his love for math just continued to grow. Physics was an interest that was later developed, and he currently cites Calculus and Physics as his favorite classes. 

When moving from Del Rio to Keystone School in San Antonio, Yousuf was greeted with friendly faces. The hardest part of the transition was learning how to study. At Del Rio, Yousuf said he didn’t have to study at all; however, at Keystone, he quickly had to learn new techniques to succeed. For any new high schooler at Keystone, Yousuf advises to make sure you timely finish your homework but also make sure to take advantage of all the opportunities Keystone offers. 

Yousuf with his sister Yooly

Family is an integral part of Yousuf’s life, and his role model is his father. Yousuf has a great respect for his father, and he feels as though he’s growing up to be like him. When asked whom he would meet if he could talk to anyone in history, Yousuf selected his great grandfather, explaining that he was an advisor of sorts on an island in the Maldives. In fact, he attributes most of his wisdom and knowledge to his father, who left Goidhoo to eventually arrive in America. In his household, Yousuf is the eldest of four—soon to be five—brothers and sisters, and his title, Dhombe, translates to “eldest brother,” serving as a role model for his siblings. 

Another vital value for Yousuf is religion. As a devout Muslim, Yousuf believes his religion has shaped him to be the giving, humble person he is today. Reflected on a conversation from sophomore year, Yousuf cites the “three R’s” as what drives him: rationality, reality, and religion. He plans to continue using these core beliefs throughout life to ensure he lives honestly and successfully. 

As Yousuf moves onward to college, fuelled by core values and his love for STEM, I know he will thrive wherever he goes. He is an inspiration to his family members and his peers alike. Yousuf plans to major in aerospace engineering but is still considering mechanical engineering. When asked where he sees himself thirty years from now, he believes that he would have explored at least three other professions, as he loves to constantly learn and cannot see himself settling in one area for long. In the future, though, he is certain that he wants to build things to help people however he can. With his naturally giving personality and his love for technicality, I can’t wait to see the amazing product Yousuf will make in his future, wherever his life takes him.