At a time when tens of thousands of American students are getting turned away from their first, second and even third college picks, Harold Ekeh, of Long Island, N.Y., has an enviable quandary: deciding which of the eight Ivy League colleges he will attend next year, according to CBS New York.
For all his hard work and accomplishments, the Elmont High School salutatorian was no less surprised when the acceptance letters arrived.
“Absolutely shocked,” Ekeh tells the television news station about the acceptances. “It was as though I was hit repeatedly. I was stunned.”
Ekeh, whose family immigrated to the city eight years ago from Nigeria, tells the station that he credits his academic success with his family’s humble beginnings, thirst for education and a strong desire to make a meaningful mark on society.
“I am just thanking god for what he is doing for my family in the life of my son,” Harold’s mother Roseline told CBS News. She works for a human resources agency in Queens, N.Y., while his father Paul works in the traffic division of the New York Police Department.
“I am overwhelmed,” Paul tells the news outlet. “To say that I am proud is not enough, it is awesome.”
Although Ekeh spent most of his high school years focused on complicated biochemistry experiments, he volunteered on social justice campaigns, served as a mentor and participated in sports. He was also elected to Elmont’s homecoming court and honor society.
“Kids would say, ‘I want to be a firefighter or a police officer or a superhero.’ I would say I want to explore the human body, what makes us who we are,” he said, “I would like to be a neurosurgeon when I grow up.”
As for which school he’ll pick, he leaning toward Yale, but plans to visit the other schools in upcoming weeks.
“I am very humbled by this,” he said. “I see this as not an accomplishment for me, but as an accomplishment for my school, my community. Because I really see this as my mission to inspire the next generation.”