I’ve headache making a choice, says…

 …The young Nigerian who got admission into 8 Ivy League schools, 5 others


US-based Nigerian student, Harold Ekeh has got admission into eight American finest col­leges and five other schools of repute at once.

His life has not remained the same ever since. From a humble boy of a Nigerian-US based parents to an international person of interest. Right now, he is having hard time in deciding which school he would attend.

The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton Uni­versity, and Yale University. The term Ivy League has con­notations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions and social elitism.

Other schools, which also gave him admission, are Johns Hopkins, NYU, MIT, Vanderbilt, and SUNY Stony Brook.

The 18-year-old was surprised when he received letters from the different schools he had applied to, after waiting for weeks since sending off his application. Now, reporters and agents of these schools trying to persuade him to make a decision, flood his parent house.

Ekeh, who migrated with his parent at age eight, was al­ready a model student in Elmont Memorial High School on Long Island in the New York City suburbs, before he scored 2270 in his SATs; he had founded a college mentoring pro­gram at his school, editor–in-chief of his student newspaper and chief executive of the Model United Nations. Having admission into the eight Ivy League schools is “another ex­ample of his leadership quality,” stated the principal of the school, John Capozzi

Narrating his tale, Ekeh said his parents had always told him that they left a comfortable life in Nigeria for him to have opportunity for better education. He added that his par­ents’ struggle in the state inspired him; his father, Paul Ekeh works with New York Police Department’s traffic division and his mother, Roseline Ekeh works for a human resources agency in Queens.

How he got the admissions

Harold said that his winning essay described the struggle of fitting in after immigrating to America from Nigeria 10 years ago and admitted that he has set a high bar for his four younger brothers.

‘Sky isn’t the limit’, Harold, told his brothers that they would surpass his accomplishments. ‘People say the sky is the limit – it won’t be for them,’ he said.

‘It was such a huge thing for my parents to uproot our family, a family of six, from our home to a new country.

‘I came over with a very heavy Nigerian accent, but I did everything I could to integrate. Learning American history was really hard but I was determined to tackle it so I signed up for AP History as a junior.

‘I was worried as a kid about speaking with an American accent, but they had to worry about actually finding jobs.

‘They joked that they came over for the 24-hour electric­ity. But I know it was so we would have opportunities as children.

‘No matter how many times they got knocked down, they stayed positive, and kept telling me that the secret to success in unbridled resolve.’

His achievement has been hailed as the American Dream, but Harold downplays it.

‘I just worked hard and took every opportunity that was afforded to me. They are going to beat my accomplishments. They were very excited by the news; they look up to me and follow my lead.

‘When I got the news, I told them they can achieve any­thing. I said people say the sky is the limit but they can go even further than that. I know they will.’

Ultimately, he plans to be a neurosurgeon to study Alz­heimer’s, a disease his grandmother suffers from. But insists he won’t just be studying.

“I’m torn because each school offers something different, and there are so many different things I’m looking for,” he said. ‘I want to go to a good school where I can study hard, but I also want somewhere where I feel comfortable; some­where I could imagine calling home.

‘I also want to meet other students, make friends, travel, and do other activities.

‘When people ask me which one, I have said Yale so far because I have a connection with Yale. I went to Yale with the Model United Nations, and got to see how inspiring and interesting it is there.

‘I’m visiting a few this months and will decide at the end.’

His passion for science

He wants to major in neurobiology or chemistry in col­lege and later become doctor and, ultimately, a neurosur­geon. He was named a 2015 Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist earlier this year for his research on how the acid DHA can slow Alzheimer’s.

For Ekeh, the cause is personal. His grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 11. One of his proudest moments was running home to tell his mother and aunts about the breakthroughs he was finding with DHA.

“When other kids would say, ‘I want to be a superhero or police officer,’ I would say, ‘I want to know what is on the inside of us,’” he said.

How he succeeded

Outside of the lab, Ekeh directs a youth choir at his church, plays the drums, is part of Key Club and Model UN and was elected to the Homecoming court. He speaks Igbo and Spanish and has a 100.5 per cent GPA. He’s proud of acing the AP History Exam despite his early struggles with the subject.

Elmont High School is 99 per cent minority. Ekeh is the second student in recent years to win a prestigious Intel Sci­ence award.

Principal John Capozzi calls Ekeh “one of the most hum­ble young men I’ve ever had the opportunity to meet.” The lab where Ekeh did his award-winning research is modest and only staffed part-time by a passionate chemistry teacher, but the community makes the most of what it has.

Proud parents

Paul and Roseline Ekeh, former Target clerks, inspired their son to work hard to achieve

His father, who could not hold his joy shared the news on Facebook with an elated message

His mother, who also could not contain her delight posted on facebook: ‘all glory to the highest God!’

His father Paul described the moment he found out.

‘It was like a thunderbolt,’ he said. ‘I didn’t doubt that he could achieve good things but it was the sweep that made it so different. I don’t know how to say how I feel. It’s amaz­ing.’

Sharing the news of his son’s achievement onfacebook, Mr Ekeh wrote: ‘Bless the LORD… Congrats Son, in Jesus’ name!!!’

With three weeks and four days to make a decision, Har­old said he is having an open mind and plans to visit Har­vard, MIT and Princeton.

Harvard only accepts 5.9 per cent of applicants – roughly 2,000 of the 34,000 submissions they receive.

Last year, another Long Islander, Kwasi Enin, chose Yale after being accepted by all eight Ivies

Yale accepts 6.3 per cent of the 30,000 students who ap­ply, and Columbia only 6.9 per cent of 32,000.

Cornell has the highest acceptance rate of the eight Ivies – a minuscule 14 per cent of the 43,000 applicants.

Right now, Harold is leaning towards Yale.

‘I got to see how passionate people are at Yale,’ he told ABC. ‘That skewed me to start leaning towards Yale in my junior year.’

Last year, another Long Island high school student, 17-year-old Kwasi Enin, picked Yale after being accepted to every Ivy League college.

The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Kwasi had a SAT score of 2250, straight As, and wrote an essay describing his love of music which ‘sparked my intellectual curiosity’

His advice to other high school students is simple: “Like my parents always told us, the secret to success is unbridled resolve.”

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