It’s decision time for Elmont Memorial High School valedictorian Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, who has become the second Elmont student in two years to win acceptance to all eight Ivy League universities.
The graduating senior, who in January became the first in her school’s history to be a national finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search, will have to decide by May 1 where she will commit as part of the Class of 2020.
“It would’ve been a great honor to get into just one Ivy League school, so being able to get into all of them was shocking,” she said. “I think it speaks volumes about my support system — my parents, my teachers, my school.”
At a time when it has become commonplace for students to apply to 20 or more colleges, expecting to receive some rejection letters, Uwamanzu-Nna applied to 12 — and was accepted to each one.
Schools in the Ivy League are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University.
She also gained admission to Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Uwamanzu-Nna, 17, earned a 101.64 weighted grade-point average at Elmont Memorial, which is in the Sewanhaka Central High School district. Her all-Ivies acceptance is the second straight year an Elmont Memorial High School student has pulled off the feat.
Last year Harold Ekeh, who was an Intel semifinalist, won acceptance to all the Ivy League schools, plus five others. He is finishing up his freshman year at Yale University, said Caron Cox, chairperson of pupil personnel services at Elmont Memorial.
“We have been flying under the radar for years but there are some really great things happening here,” Cox said of the 1,700-student school.
She estimated about 60 percent to 70 percent of Elmont graduates go on to four-year colleges, while fewer than 5 percent go on to Ivy League institutions.
Often that has more to do with whether they and their families can afford the cost of attendance than their ability to gain admittance to the prestigious schools, said Kevin Dougherty, Elmont Memorial’s principal.
“These students can definitely compete in the Ivy League intellectually, but they often opt to choose to go to a good institution where they might get a full ride,” Dougherty said.
While Uwamanzu-Nna still is undecided on which school she’ll attend, she intends to pursue a science-related major and continue doing research, she said earlier this year. She is interested in biochemistry and environmental studies.
For her Intel project, Uwamanzu-Nna analyzed oil well cementing practices, particularly those linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Working with mentors at Columbia University, she tested a novel cement design to make a better mixture to prevent future disasters.
Uwamanzu-Nna said she hopes to be a role model for her two younger siblings as well as for other girls in her community. She is the second of four children in her family. Her parents emigrated from Nigeria in the late 1990s, she said, “seeking better opportunities for their children.” Her older brother is a freshman at Cornell University.
Uwamanzu-Nna is president of a student-run organization for business in the high school, co-founded a schoolwide tutoring program and is president of the Leo Club, a community-service group sponsored by the Lions Club.
Some of Uwamanzu-Nna’s friends said they weren’t at all surprised to hear about her achievement.
“This is the Augusta we know,” said Selamawit Moges, 18, who has been on the same science research track since the eighth grade. “It’s such an honor to be her friend.”