Harold Ekeh Was Accepted To All 8 Ivy League Colleges, But He's Not The First From His Town

NEW HAVEN, CT - APRIL 16: Trees bloom on the campus of Yale University April 16, 2008 in New Haven, Connecticut. New Haven boasts many educational and cultural offerings that attract visitors to the city. (Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images)
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If there is one thing that bonds together high school students, especially seniors, it is the pain, exhaustion, and anticipation of the college process. Between filling out endless paperwork for applications, letters of recommendation, and student loans, it almost seems superfluous to write your college admissions essay. And yet, some students seem to totally ace the dreaded essay, writing such a great personal statement that it gets them admitted to the most prestigious schools in the country. This year, a brilliant high school senior is making headlines after being accepted by all eight Ivy League colleges. Harold Ekeh, 17, is a student at Elmont Memorial High School in Long Island, New York. In addition to smashing the Ivy League slate, Ekeh also got into MIT and Johns Hopkins University — he got into all 13 schools where he sent applications.

Ekeh told CNN he was "leaning toward" attending Yale, having been drawn to the university after participating in Model United Nations competitions on campus. But he isn't just focused on his own education — he wants to spread the bounty of a great higher education to others. In high school, Ekeh founded a college mentoring program at his high school. But Ekeh was his own college mentor, and it seemed to work out pretty well. In his college essay, Ekeh described his difficulty immigrating to the United States from Nigeria at age eight.

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As if founding the mentoring program weren't enough, Ekeh has been involved in tons of activities and research in high school. He's no one-trick pony — Ekeh has conducted scientific research on Alzheimer's, a cause close to his heart, and he aims to go to medical school after completing undergrad. As mentioned before, he's also part of Model UN, as well as his school's Key Club. And Ekeh directs a youth choir at his local church. Whew. Definitely not the schedule of the average 17-year-old.

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Though this story is incredibly impressive, it might feel a little familiar — didn't this just happen last year? Is this just déjà vu? No, it's not — just last year, another Long Island resident, Kwasi Enin, was accepted to all eight Ivies and ultimately chose Yale, but not before his story made national news. Everyone wants to know: what's the secret? What do these young men have, say, or do that other applicants don't? As it happens, both young men are science-minded. Enin is currently pursuing a biochemistry major so he can be on track for pre-med, just like Ekeh. And he, too, is working to help high school students get into college with SAT prep company 2400 Expert.

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What really sets both of these students apart, though, is their fervent pursuit of an activity or interest outside of their academic area of study. The essay that got Enin into all eight Ivies was not about his love for medicine, but rather his passion for music. The New York Post leaked the letter last year, and it's just as good as you would imagine. Ekeh and Enin didn't get into the top colleges in the country just by being great students, but by excelling at something else they truly care about. It's that passion that shines through in their applications, and that's why the most elite private universities in the country will probably be in fisticuffs fighting for him this fall.

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What does Ekeh say about all this? As is to be expected, he is quite humble and inspiring:

Anybody who sees my story can say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ I’m just a kid who had a real strong support system. ... I don’t see it as an accomplishment for me. I see it as an accomplishment for my community. I hope it inspires the younger generation, not just in Elmont, but overall.

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