This Harvard Student Rapped His Way To Graduation And It’s Hella Inspiring

As an English Major, I read this article on Harvard student Obasi Shaw and was completely moved. He took creativity to a whole new level after submitting a rap album as his thesis. After not knowing what to write about and the deadline quickly approaching (as many of us can sympathize with), he looked to a passion to help him.

He was inspired through Old English authors such as Chaucer and the work of rappers Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. A combination I never fathomed possible after studying much of Chaucer’s work, but somehow he brings them all to life in a new and interesting way.

As an individual who has studied poetry at various points throughout their education, I can say that hearing poetry is such a drastically different experience than reading it. This is where I really come to understand Shaw’s choice in a thesis. Through rap, he is bringing back the oral tradition of poetry from centuries ago. At one point in time that is how all news traveled, by word of mouth. No story or song lasted through history because it was written down or recorded in any manner, it simply lived on through generations. The best way to do that was to keep it simple, catchy, and of course for it to rhyme.

Shaw is Harvard’s first student to ever submit a rap album as a thesis, and in turn, he received the second highest grade possible at that level. In his album, “Liminal Minds,” he discusses black people in America and their state between slavery and freedom.

Choosing topics both close to the heart of many of the American people and often ignored by the other half was a striking move. His thesis and/or album draws on issues clearly relevant for centuries before us and unfortunately may continue to be relevant without further change. By discussing these issues through a manner people not only focus on but enjoy, he is drawing mass attention to them.

Obasi Shaw inspired me because he took issues he believed in and hobbies he was passionate about and intertwined them within his education. Many of us never find a job we love because we can’t seem to bring together these different areas of our lives, but he managed to seamlessly.

Shaw found an outlet through which he can connect to the world and they would respond with open arms, something so many of us seek. Through his story, I am reminded that there is no one way to accomplish something correctly. We are all unique; we all have passions and beliefs and stories to tell. We should be open to expressing them and open to receiving others. Most importantly, we should strive to include these inanimate parts of who we are into our daily lives, whether that is school, work, or anything else. Never be afraid to let who you are shine through your life in whatever way suits you. Thank you, Obasi Shaw, for being you and for reminding us of what we can accomplish!

Featured image via Tim Savage on Pexels


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