MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Amary Seck relishes the privilege of seeing his daughter every day, something he couldn't do with his own parents growing up in Senegal.
Seck, who teaches chemistry at Mamaroneck High School, was born in Senegal. His parents lived in the Lambai village, which didn't have a junior high school or high school, forcing Seck to leave home at an early age to pursue his education.
"During vacations I would visit my parents," Seck said. "It was hard not to live with your parents."
Seck moved to Bambei for Junior High School, then Thies, where he attended Lycee Malick Sy High School. "It was difficult, because my parents didn't live in any of those towns," Seck said. "I stayed with friends of my parents, which is a common practice."
After high school, Seck moved to Dakar to study at the College of Statistics. It was improbable that the young boy from the Lambai village would make it to that point, but he did, working several odd jobs along the way. After college, he worked for the Ministry of Finance in the statistics division.
After a year, however, Seck realized he "didn't like working in an office," and in 1990 decided to go back to school. But, this time, he set his sights on a foreign land, America. Although he didn't have to move around as much, Seck's pursuit of an education was still an uphill battle. Not only did he support himself living in a small studio apartment and going to school, but also his mother back home.
"He was a cab driver in New York City, and he worked his way through school," said Margo Schneider, president of Students for Senegal, a high school club Seck's journey inspired.
Seck earned his undergraduate degree in math from City College in 1995, then his graduate degree from Polytechnic University - now Polytechnic Institute of New York University. While pursuing his graduate degree part-time, he taught at Grace Dodge Career and Technical High School in the Bronx from 1996 to 2001.
After graduating, the Senegalese man with a knack for numbers found a position at Mamaroneck High School teaching chemistry. "He's an amazing person, Schneider said. "He has come from so little and started a life here."
Like Schneider, a group of students were so moved by the stories he told of growing up in his native land that they launched Students for Senegal , a high school club that raises awareness and money for Senegalese students, who, like Seck, don't have basic essentials, like pens, paper or books.
"Just seeing a Senegalese person teaching in Mamaroneck is unique," said Seck, who is now in his 10th year at MHS. "When we started it, the idea of just going and meeting the people and going to all the schools that I went to, interacting with the students, learning about the culture, was an idea that was welcomed by them."
The club, which Schneider said is one of the largest in the school, made the trip to Senegal last February with Seck, who showed them what life was like for him growing up.
The club's ultimate goal is raise $100,000 to build a community learning center. For more information on Students for Senegal, visit their website here .
Don't forget to Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.