ELMONT, New York (AP) — Nigerian-born Elmont High School senior Harold Ekeh had a plan — he would apply to 13 colleges, including all eight Ivy League schools, figuring it would help his chances of getting into at least one great school.
It worked. And then some. The teenager from Long Island was accepted at all 13 schools, and now faces his next big test: deciding where to go.
“I was stunned, I was really shocked,” the 17-year-old told The Associated Press during an interview Tuesday at his home near the Belmont Park racetrack, his four younger brothers running around.
He found out last week he had been accepted to Princeton University. That made him eight for eight in the Ivy League. He had already been accepted to Yale University, Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania. His other acceptances came from Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, Stony Brook University and Vanderbilt University.
“We are so proud of him,” said his mother, Roseline Ekeh. “Hard work, dedication, prayer brought him to where he is today.”
Born in Nigeria, Harold was 8 when his parents brought the family to the United States.
“It was kind of difficult adjusting to the new environment and the new culture,” he said. But he saw his parents working hard, “and I took their example and decided to apply myself.”
He referenced that effort in his college essay, writing: “Like a tree, uprooted and replanted, I could have withered in a new country surrounded by people and languages I did not understand. Yet, I witnessed my parents persevere despite the potential to succumb. I faced my challenges with newfound zeal; I risked humiliation, spending my recesses talking to unfamiliar faces, ignoring their sarcastic remarks.”
Harold “is tremendously focused in everything he does,” said John Capozzi, the school’s principal. “He’s a great role model. All the students and faculty are so proud of him.”
Harold is the second Long Island student in as many years to get into all eight Ivies. Last year, William Floyd High School’s Kwasi Enin chose to go to Yale.
Harold, who has a 100.51 grade-point average and wants to be a neurosurgeon, said he was leaning toward Yale, and had heard from Enin, offering congratulations. Like Enin, he’s likely to announce his college choice at a press conference later this month. The deadline to decide is May 1.
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