A multi-lingual Long Island high school senior who moved to New York from Nigeria when he was 8 and wrote his primary college essay about the tribulations of adjusting to American life has earned the prestigious honor of being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools, according to published reports.
Harold Ekeh, a 17-year-old aspiring neurosurgeon who plays the drums, directs a church youth choir and founded a college mentoring program at his Elmont Memorial High School, where he was the salutatorian, has a 100.5 percent grade point average and scored a 2270 on his SATs. According to CNN Money, Ekeh was a semifinalist in the national Intel Science Talent Search earlier this year for his research on how the supplement DHA can decelerate the advancement of Alzheimer's disease.
Ekeh's grandmother was diagnosed with the disease when he was 11.
"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,'" Ekeh told CNN Money.
Ekeh credits his parents, former employees at a Target store in Queens, according to The New York Post, with cultivating his drive for success and ultimately helping him achieve it.
The teenager, who speaks Spanish and his native Nigerian language, Igbo, told CNN Money he had trouble adjusting to U.S. culture and customs when he first arrived in the country; U.S. history classes were particularly challenging.
"We had a fairly comfortable life in Nigeria, but they told me we moved to America for the opportunities like the educational opportunities," Ekeh told the website. "I'm very humbled by this. It's not just for me, but for my school and community. We can accomplish great things here."
Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and the University of Pennsylvania all sent acceptance letters to Ekeh's home. Few students even apply to all eight ultra-selective universities, college counselors say, because each school looks for different qualities in their freshman classes. Each college accepts fewer than 15 percent of applicants.
Ekeh told the Post he never expected to get into all eight of the Ivy League schools -- or the five other colleges that accepted him, including MIT, NYU, Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University and Stony Brook University. Ekeh found out he got into all of them Tuesday -- and went to Chipotle -- after Bible class -- to celebrate, the Post reported.
He told CNN Money he is leaning toward Yale, where he competed in a Model UN event and met people offered him college application advice -- and fueled his desire to give back to others. Yale is also the school chosen by Long Island's Kwasi Enin, the former William Floyd High School student who accomplished the Ivy League sweep last year.