When Kwasi Enin takes his viola out of its blue-felt-lined case, there's a healthy dusting of rosin under the strings. It's well used. The scholar -- who made international news when he got accepted to all eight Ivy League schools -- is a virtuoso, too.
Enin, of Shirley, said he plays music for about 18 hours a week. He sings, plays the viola, piano and electric bass; and throughout his time at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, he has participated in chamber orchestra, annual musicals and the men's a cappella group. Last year, he received a perfect score in his all-state choir audition.
On Sundays, Enin, 18, performs at the very place he first took an interest in music -- his church's youth and bell choirs. He started singing in the choir for fun when he was 6 years old. Eventually his commitment to music -- and his love for it -- grew.
"It has a hold over me," he said. "No one bothers me. It's a peaceful time when I feel all alone even if everyone is watching. And it has a hold over them, too."
Enin believes the rest of his success has hinged upon his success in music, an idea that shaped the college application essay that helped get him into the country's most selective universities. He will attend Yale in the fall.
Offstage, Enin is laid-back, quiet and humble. When performing, a robust presence takes over. It has given him the ability to connect with his school community in a way he said he otherwise never would. Barbara D'Orio, Enin's concert choir and a cappella director, said he is "truly amazing" to watch.
"He really brings the music off the page and into real life," she said.
Equally as impressive as his ability to transform himself is Enin's ability to transform those around him, D'Orio added, explaining that Enin takes students under his wing and inspires them to reach higher.
Enin holds that accomplishment -- inspiring his peers -- in higher regard than all his others. As he prepares to leave for college, he said it's that community he will miss the most.
"The friends I made; little families, really," he said.
Enin will study molecular biology at Yale University. He also hopes to join an a capella group and campus orchestra.
Enin said he's looking forward to "all the different kinds of people I'll meet."
WHAT MAKES YOU EXTRAORDINARY
I think people talk to me, and when they talk to me, it's like, they want to do better, too. They think, 'I can do this, and I can do that.' I pull that out of people."