George Kojo Frimpong Birikorang
- Spring Quarter, 2023: How did I pick my major and how did LSP help me prepare and/or launch my journey into this discipline?
- Fall Quarter, 2022: The most amazing experience I had this past summer
- Spring Quarter, 2022: My most important takeaways from my first year at Stanford and how LSP relates
- Winter Quarter, 2022: How LSP supported me during my first quarter at Stanford
Check back for more blog posts in future quarters!
More about George
Hometown: Takoradi/Ghana, West Africa
Stanford neighborhood: Neighborhood N (Dorm - Crothers Memorial)
Computer Science and Astronomy
Energy Resources Engineering
Favorite class I took during fall quarter: Energy Options in the 21st Century - an introductory seminar with Professor John Fox. This class was very challenging, interesting, insightful, and fun. Definitely recommend for anyone interested in the science, economics, and policies of energy, climate change, and a sustainable future. Let’s save the world together!
Winter quarter course I think I'll enjoy most: Sustainable Energy for 9 billion, but it unfortunately conflicted with my Programming Abstraction class(CS106B) and so I can’t take it. However, I’m looking forward to my Think class - Design that understands us. Gonna do some really mind blowing stuff.
Favorite hang-out on Stanford's campus: The Center for African studies(CAS). Really feels like home. You can never go wrong with the steaming debates we have about Africa on hot afternoons. Laura (the Director of CAS) is the best! I’m taking Shifting frames (a dialogue based class about Afropolitanism, brain drain and other key African issues) with her next quarter, and I already can’t wait to learn and unlearn from all these wonderful people I’ve met so far.
Coolest student organization I joined since arriving: Stanford Black Scientists and Engineers, Stanford African Students Association, and Stanford Black in Computer Science. Hoping to join the Stanford Student Space Initiative.
Thing I miss most about home: Definitely the food (been craving for my mum’s fufu and goat meat light soup since the summer) and my family. I miss the small fights I had with my siblings. Haha. The fact that they can be super annoying and extremely fun simultaneously makes them impossible to forget!
Primary reason I applied to Stanford and what I enjoy most about it so far: Applying to Stanford is one thing, getting into Stanford is another, and committing to and attending Stanford is a whole different entity on its own. I applied to Stanford with the dream of finding the intersection between Energy and Artificial Intelligence, and making innovations that would help save the world from climate change. I chose Stanford and committed to it because I knew it was the ultimate place in the world for me to achieve such a goal. Ever since I got here, I have realized that everyone here is extremely smart but super cool, very passionate about what they do, and are generally welcoming and supportive of each other. These past weeks here have taught me a lot about social life and how important it is as academics. I have enjoyed all the little things like chatting over a milkshake at TAP with friends, grabbing lunch with a random person at Arrillaga and getting to know them, and having late night talks, movie streaming, cooking and sleepovers at Ujama’s Drake lounge. I simply love the Stanford community. The highlights of my year so far have been trying new foods with friends, and chanting beat cal together at the big game even though we were losing. Sometimes, I think about how my life would have been in the ivies and other schools I got accepted into, and then I reminisce about all these little experiences, and I don’t regret committing to Stanford at all.
Profile Updates — Fall Quarter, 2022
Stanford neighborhood: T (Soto, Wilbur Complex)
Computer Science (AI) and Energy Resources Engineering
Profile Updates — Spring Quarter, 2022
Computer Science and Energy Resources Engineering
Finance and Business
Favorite class I took during winter quarter:
Programming Abstraction (CS106B) surprisingly turned out to be my favorite class of the quarter. Not only was I fascinated by the reasoning behind recursive backtracking and the practical application of our programming projects, but I was also lucky to have met some wonderful friends and working partners who shaped my understanding of the course and made the quarter much more fun and enjoyable. Professor Keith is also amazing!
Spring quarter course I think I'll enjoy most:
I am most looking forward to my computer organization and systems class (CS107). I have heard a lot of positive and negative rumors about the class and so I’m excited (yes, excited!) to see how it will turn out for me. I looked through the class syllabus and loved all the different topics and content we will be learning. Also, this is the class that will help me decide whether to major in computer science or not, so I remain optimistic about it.
Favorite hang-out on Stanford's campus:
The Kingscote Garden. I went there multiple times in the winter to enjoy the ambiance and serenity of the place, reflect on life(de-stress), and work on my homework and projects on certain occasions, and it was amazing. The birds chirp melodiously, squirrels squeak gently, and water flows so calmly that it’s naturally satisfying. If you are a nature/environment person, I definitely recommend you visit.
How did I pick my major and how did LSP help me prepare and/or launch my journey into this discipline?
Spring Quarter, 2023
Should I double major in CS and Energy Resources Engineering? Would that even be possible considering the fact that I want to coterm? What about African Studies that I have been so passionate about lately? I don’t want to ignore that. How about I create my own independent major with portions of each of these? Where do I even begin this independent major from? Who do I contact? And wait, what would even be the name of this major? I was extremely confused and time wasn’t in my best interest either. Then there was LSP again. Through LSP, I had a series of discussions with so many people ranging from faculty advisors to academic advisors, seniors in the majors I wanted, and some coterm and independent designed majors. Through connections I built with LSP peers over the summer and in the fall, I was connected with resources and major declaration guidelines on campus. After finally deciding to move on with computer science and minor in the two other programs, I had to get a faculty advisor for CS. Once again, I resorted to the strategies LSP taught us in the beginning of the school year and took advantage of the fact that I could just email professors directly about what I wanted: I emailed the professor with whom I worked on my first AI project and went to his office hours after and he was genuinely so happy to be my advisor. And then he even helped me apply for my CPT for my Software Engineering internship over the summer. I anticipate a lot of interesting moments in junior year as I delve deeper into the crux of these programs unearthing some cool stuff. I’m glad LSP helped me declare my major without losing any interests I have.
The most amazing experience I had this past summer
Fall Quarter, 2022
Summer!!! Summer!! Summer! Summer was fun. As an international student who traveled miles away to study in the US, the first thing that came to mind was to go back home and see my friends and family. It was a really euphoric experience seeing Accra span the entire airport area while the plane landed. My eyes lit up, and I immediately felt an inner sense of peace and belongingness.
By then, my summer Software Product Sprint with Google had already begun, so I focused on working on that. I worked in a team with three other students from different schools supervised by a Google Senior Software Engineer to design and implement a full stack Premier League Wordle Web Application. We learned a lot together and bonded really well on our projects.
While doing this, I took the opportunity to participate in the 12 week intermediate data structures and algorithms software engineering classes offered by codepath to prepare for my technical interviews for next summer’s internships.
I was fortunate to have been accepted into the Stanford BEAM Fellowship Program to work with a college access non profit back home in Ghana. We offered high achieving first generation low income high school seniors and graduates in Accra free tutorials for the SAT, registration, and assistance with applications to colleges in the US and other countries.
My year round extensive research with the BYTES Team under the Stanford Black Scientists and Engineers for EnergieRich extended into the summer, which saw us going to the Northern Region of Ghana to build solar panels, and a web interface to visualize data tracked from sensors we connected to the panels. The most rewarding part of the program, though, was teaching the kids basic electronics and how sensors and microcontrollers like esp32 and Arduino worked. It was a really fun time seeing all the amazing projects they ended up making at the end of the program. We also had a really fun time exploring the northern part of Ghana together since it was my first time there too. We went to the Mole National Park and the oldest mosque in West Africa.
I also traveled to Kenya for two weeks to visit my friends, helped some high schoolers in Nairobi prepare for their SAT at the Afex Hub Limited, and explored the breathtaking sceneries in Nairobi and Mombasa. Even though it was fun swimming in the middle of the Indian ocean with friends, I loved grappling with the Swahili language, upsetting my stomach with ugali, admiring Nairobi’s wind farm and train system, and remaining astounded by how active the night life was.
This summer was one of the best summers of my life. Honored to be selected as a resident assistant, participant of Meta’s Above and Beyond Computer Science Fall Program, fellow at the Center for African Studies, and a mentor at the Bechtel International Center, I look forward to a more meaningful yet exciting sophomore year.
My most important takeaways from my first year at Stanford and how LSP relates
Spring Quarter, 2022
Whenever I recall the moment when my friends and I sat quietly for hours in the ambience of the Kingscote Garden finding solace in the night sky, or when we shared our deepest secrets and fears at the oval around midnight, or even when we walked miles to get an uber because we had stayed too long at the Half Moon Bay shore waiting for the sun to set(which never did or at least wasn’t visible), I can’t help but realize how drastically LSP has changed me.
LSP taught me to cherish and appreciate the community that I have no matter how popular or small it is. LSP taught me to constantly check up on my friends, hug them whenever I had to, and sit there with them in the silence whenever they needed my company. I learned to show up for my friends and the people I love no matter how bad I looked, how fatigued I was, or how busy my day was. So during the quarter, I biked to see my friends whenever they needed me, went on a stroll with them whenever they requested for one, and played volleyball with them no matter how bad I was at it. Through the process, I realized how important these minute things were in sustaining the friendship we had and how they offered people safe spaces to thrive and be the best version of themselves.
It is also worth mentioning how LSP taught me to take care of myself (my health and mental wellbeing) no matter how hard or easy things got. At LSP, we were connected with mental and physical wellbeing resources at Stanford and taught to prioritize our health over academics. I’m exiting my freshman year with a whole new perspective about life: life is much more than just solving psets, showing up to classes, or cramming all night; it’s also about taking care of yourself- taking that nap that you badly need, or watching the show you deserve. LSP has taught me that to excel at Stanford, I have to have a well balanced academic and social life. I have to manage my time really well and never hesitate to choose my health whenever I am in a position of uncertainty. I believe that this character will be essential to my life not only here at Stanford, but also in the real, outside world.
I begin the spring quarter with a new perspective on life and community. From now on, I will make sure to prioritize my mental and physical wellbeing all the time, have a balanced academic and social life, and never forget to love unconditionally all members of my community- to give them the tightest hug and warmest embrace that they need!
How LSP supported me during my first quarter at Stanford
Winter Quarter, 2022
That night, LSP made me feel the most empowered, rejuvenated, and inspired I had ever been in my life. I was ready and confident in my abilities for the journey ahead. As I stared deeply into the flame at Lake Lag and reminisced on everything I had experienced at LSP, I daringly, but with a shaky voice and tears welling up effortlessly in my eyes, proclaimed to my premier family in the US (LSP): “I want to let go of the fear of losing myself, my voice, and my personality at Stanford!”
Coming to Stanford as an African, I knew things were going to be extremely different and the joy of getting into Stanford waned gradually every time I thought about it. The food, the weather, the different academic curriculum, writing styles, and a whole lot. I was scared. How was I going to excel in an extremely different utopia over 12,226km away from home, with no friends and family, ignorant of how things worked there, yet where the expectations for me and its denizens were not an iota different?
LSP was my “Deus Ex Machina.” LSP taught me the relevance of social life/community at Stanford and gave me a very strong family I could count on – one with diverse family trees rooting into unique horizons of identity, race, and gender. LSP gave me all the exposure I needed to reduce the cultural shocks in the US even before school began. I explored San Francisco, Santa Cruz, took college math classes, PWR, and published my first college research paper. I explored all parts of campus, figured out where my dorms and classes were, and had preceptor debriefs which gave me an idea of some challenges to expect in my Stanford journey, how others surmounted them, and the best ways I could approach them.
The fall quarter was where the significance of LSP really came to light. In moments when classes seemed overwhelming, LSP was still there to support me. Tuesday nights in Nick’s room solving Math P-sets and Wednesday nights in Gilberto’s room debugging our CS homework codes were the best. I can’t even count the number of times I went to Brandi, the LSP Director, complaining about how my strategies weren’t working, and always came back with new ones.
Nothing felt more satisfying than having a bad day and seeing an LSP friend, or going to the dining hall alone and running into them. I felt more confident and comfortable in their company, and they were just the highlights of my day. They were the ones I could really talk to, be vulnerable with, and share my depressive moments with. They were always there for me, resonated with me, rejuvenated me, and empowered me.
Sometimes, I consider all the little struggles I went through during my first quarter albeit the support from LSP, and I wonder how my life would have been haphazardly entropic without LSP. I couldn’t be more grateful to LSP.