Nigerian Harold Ekeh gets admission to all eight Ivy League Universities this year


Harold Ekeh has a very tough decision to make.

The 18-year-old Long Islander has waited anxiously for weeks since sending off his college applications.

But he didn’t expect this.

Harold has been accepted by every single one – including all eight Ivy League schools.

It comes a year after another high schooler from Long Island, Kwasi Enin (Ghanaian), was met with the same news. He chose Yale. (read his story here)

Harold Ekeh
Incredible achievement: Harold, 18, insists he had no idea he would be accepted by all 13 colleges
Star: The high school senior moved from Nigeria to Long Island 10 years ago with his parents Roseline (pictured) and Paul Ekeh. He says his parents’ struggle inspired him to take every opportunity he was afforded

‘It was crazy. My mom sat next to me and it was just letter after letter after letter. I couldn’t believe it,’ Harold told as he recounted the five minutes when acceptance emails came in from Yale, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, NYU, MIT, Vanderbilt, and SUNY Stony Brook.

His celebration?

‘I went to Chipotle with my friends for a half steak half chicken burrito bowl. It was perfect.’

Born in Nigeria, Harold and his parents moved to the US when he was eight.

He is now a straight A student, with an SAT score of 2270, at Elmont Memorial High School in Long Island, New York, where he has served as editor-in-chief of his student newspaper and chief executive of the Model United Nations.

His success, he explains, is down to the submission essay, in which he described his family’s struggle to fit in after emigrating to America.

It was the resilience of his parents, former Target clerks Paul and Roseline Ekeh, that gave him the drive to achieve the best.

His story: Harold says his winning essay described the struggle of fitting in after emigrating to America
Speaking to, Harold admitted he has set a high bar for his four younger brothers (pictured)

He told ‘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 was worried as a kid about speaking with an American accent, but they had to worried 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.

‘Sky isn’t the limit’: Harold, pictured aged 13, three years after arriving in the U.S., told his brothers (pictured) that they will surpass his accomplishments. ‘People say the sky is the limit – it won’t be for them,’ he said

My parents joked that they came over here for the 24-hour electricity. But really it was so I had opportunities

Harold Ekeh

‘I just worked hard and took every opportunity that was afforded to me.

‘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.’

With four younger brothers, he has set the bar high. He doesn’t think that’ll be a problem, however.

‘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 month and will decide at the end.’

Elated, his mother Roseline, who now works for a human resources agency in Queens, posted on Facebook: ‘All glory to the most high God!!!’

His father Paul Ekeh, who works in the NYPD’s traffic division, spoke to to describe 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 on Facebook, 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 keeping 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.

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 an SAT score of 2250, straight As, and wrote an essay describing his love of music which ‘sparked my intellectual curiosity’.

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