Sewanhaka senior Harold Ekeh has a tantalizing decision facing him: Yale or Harvard? Or maybe MIT?
Or, if he decides he wants still more options, he can always fall back on Princeton, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania or Cornell.
Ekeh, the Elmont Memorial High School salutatorian, achieved the rare feat of being accepted to all eight Ivy League schools — and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to top it off. In total, Ekeh went 13 for 13 in college admissions.
“This is a very exciting moment in my life, and I’m very grateful,” he said.
At the moment, Ekeh is leaning toward Yale, he said. “I visited Yale with my school’s Model U.N. team and I loved how passionate the people were,” he said. “I did try my best and tried to take advantage of everything my high school had to offer. Now I’m going to see where I feel the most comfortable.”
Yale’s annually accepts just 6.9 percent of applicants, still a full percentage point higher than Harvard, which sits at 5.8 percent.
Ekeh said he is planning upcoming trips to Harvard, MIT and Princeton.
Born in Nigeria, he moved to Queens at age eight and then moved to Elmont for the schools. “Part of the reason we moved here was because my parents wanted me to have the best opportunity,” he said. “I had to double up on everything once I moved here…I had a lot of catching up to do.”
Ekeh, whose grade point average is 100.51, plans to study biochemistry and neurobiology. In January, he was named a semifinalist in the prestigious Intel STS competition for his original research on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. In his project — succinctly titled, “The role of PARP-1 in MeHg-induced dopaminergic dysfunction and mitochondrial DNA depletion” — Ekeh found that certain toxins cause degradation of motor skills and lead to the diseases.
His grandmother, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when he was 11, inspired his research, he said. “If there is any way I can work to prevent this I want to,” Ekeh said.
John Capozzi, principal of Elmont High School, said Ekeh “really represents Elmont Memorial High School.” “No one is more determined than Harold,” Capozzi said.
Last year, William Floyd High School student Kwasi Enin received acceptance letters from all eight Ivys as well, setting off a national media frenzy. He even read the “Top Ten” list on The Late Show with David Letterman. At that time, Rachel Rubin, the founder of a college admissions coaching firm, told CNN that admission to all eight Ivy Leagues is “quite atypical,” made rarer because few students apply to all eight.
“Standardized test scores and good grades will get a student in the door to have their application read,” Rubin told CNN. “But it’s their extracurricular activities, leadership experience, exceptional talents, recommendation letters and personal essays that will move a student from a pile of ‘maybes’ to a pile of ‘accepted.’ ”
Source: James Galloway and Bryan Ahrens, The Island Now
Congratulations to Harold and his family, teachers and administrators and to the entire Elmont community on this most prestigious achievement!