Black Excellence at West: Meena Tate, Mokotsi Rukundo, Alice Doresca

In the second part of the Black Excellence at West series, West High students Meena Tate ’23, Alice Doresca ’23 and alumni Mokotsi Rukundo ’05 are highlighted for their contributions to West High’s excellence.

Meena Tate ’23

Meena Tate ’23 poses for Dartmouth athlete photos. (Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics.)

From an early age, Meena Tate ‘23 ranked high in all of her activities, basketball being one of her best. At first, basketball was something her parents made her do but as she grew into her natural talent, she fell in love with the game.

“My favorite memories are probably the music before the games in the locker room or the long rides back from Saturday games when we get food,” said Tate ‘23.

Tate has been on the Girls’ Varsity basketball team since freshman year. Along with that she has qualified for state sophomore year, made it to the semifinals and placed 2nd team all-state. While being in the National Honors Society, Tate manages to be a student-athlete in AP and honors classes. She finds her motivation in her supportive environment at West.

“My peers, my coaches, just basically everybody I know. I don’t want to disappoint them. I don’t want to let them down. I want them to know that they can count on me, that, you know, I’m still here like I am always,” said Tate ‘23 .

Tate has committed to Dartmouth University for her next chapter in life. She is not set on a major but plans on playing basketball for Dartmouth for the next few years. This accomplishment comes after a lot of hard work from an early age.

Pullquote Photo

I am proud that as a Black student-athlete, I’m going to play D1 basketball at an Ivy League. It’s taken a lot of work. It’s definitely an accomplishment I’m super excited about.

— Meena Tate '23

Mokotsi Rukundo ’05

Film producer and writer Mokotsi Rukundo sitting in the audience area. (Courtesy of the Daily Iowan)

Mokotsi Rukundo ‘05 is a film producer most known for his films “East of Middle West” (2021), “Pump Fake” (2019), “By&By” (2019) and many more. He graduated from West High in 2005 and is currently living in Los Angeles working on many upcoming productions.

Rukundo fell in love with film and writing in an English class called AP humanities taught by current humanities teacher, Tom Lindsey. Even though he enjoyed this in high school, in college he never thought of turning it into the career he has now.

“That AP humanities class by Mr. Lindsey, he would break down film in a way that, I didn’t know at the time, but it was waking something up,” said Rukundo. I got an opening to what I feel was my first film class in high school… We’d go heavy in this stuff, and we’d break down color music for like a while and what are the absurdities? What are the themes that are hidden, that is shown in this scene? You know, like it’s never left me.”

His interest and love for the film were apparent in the class. Everyone, especially his AP humanities teacher, Tom Lindsey could see his passion for film at the time.

“I could just kind of see where, you know, he had that light bulb over his head, but he was always like, head down, taking notes. And, I could just sense that he was genuinely interested, especially when we talked about what he’s into now like film, film analysis and active viewing.” His most recent accomplishment has been coming back to his roots and producing a film in Iowa that will be coming out to rent on Amazon Prime, Google Play and iTunes on October 14.

Alice Doresca ’23

Alice Doresca ’23 gives a speech while posing for West Side Story. (Sachiko Goto)

Debate was never something Doresca wanted to do as a freshman. Just like most students, her parents made her join the club.

“Before I joined debate freshman year, I was super shy and I was scared to talk to anyone but debate helped me get out of my comfort zone, it brought me out of my shell,” said Doresca ‘23.

Doresca is now a senior and has been a standout student in all of her classes. She is currently ranked second place for high school debaters in Iowa in her category. In sophomore year, she won the first speaker at state in her category and qualified for the National Honor Society. She got her French seal of biliteracy junior year and participated in the pit orchestra for the 2021 school musical.

“The motivation to strive for excellence is the fact that my parents moved here from Haiti, and when they came here they worked so hard to be able to provide me and my brother a house and food and stuff. So, my main motivation is them.”

— Alice Doresca '23

Doresca’s character is one of the things that make her stand out in all fields including debate.

“Her ability to listen to understand and consider the perspectives of others is crucial to persuading people to her point of view,” said John Cooper, English teacher and debate coach. “She is also very capable of maintaining her intellectual autonomy in all academic endeavors. She is quiet but has a great sense of humor, and is one of the kindest people I know.”