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Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna picks Harvard, was accepted to all 8 Ivies

Elmont Memorial High School valedictorian Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, who

Elmont Memorial High School valedictorian Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, who was accepted to all 12 colleges she applied to, including all eight Ivy League schools, will attend Harvard University, she announced on Monday, May 2, 2016. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

It will be Harvard University for Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna this fall.

That is the school of choice for the Elmont high school valedictorian who was offered admission to all eight Ivy League colleges and four other top schools, and last month was among science fair stars feted at the White House by President Barack Obama.

“I feel a sense of relief, but also a little sad that I had to reject the other 11,” said Uwamanzu-Nna, a tall, gregarious, 17-year-old who plays badminton and performs African dance when she’s not immersed in science. “They are all awesome schools.”

Uwamanzu-Nna of Elmont Memorial High School was accepted at all 12 of the colleges and universities to which she applied, including each of the prestigious ivies — Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. She was also accepted at Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The daughter of a Nigerian physical therapist who immigrated here on an H-1B visa in 1994, she said she chose Harvard because of its focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — subjects, and because the school has a population of Nigerian students.

“I saw myself doing great things at Harvard,” said Uwamanzu-Nna, who made her announcement at the school while flanked by fellow Elmont seniors. Like her, each wore T-shirts indicating the school they plan to attend, including Duke, Cornell, NYU, Adelphi, Stony Brook and others.

She said she draws inspiration in part from fellow Nigerians of the Igbo ethnic community, which traces its roots to Nigeria’s southeast. She helped form an Igbo cultural dance group, and attends St. Fortunata Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, which is home to an Igbo cultural group.

Her academic exploits have been the talk of news organizations as far away as Europe and Africa.

“AGAIN, a US-based Nigerian female student has done the nation proud,” The Sun, a Lagos, Nigeria, daily tabloid, crowed about her Ivy League sweep earlier this year.

“Elmont Memorial has been the subject of national awards and a case study for academics . . . ,” the Guardian newspaper in London wrote last month.

Here, she is the pride of Elmont.

“She is very focused and driven,” said Sewanhaka Central High School District Deputy Superintendent John Capozzi, who was the high school’s principal until last year, and who has known Uwamanzu-Nna since the seventh-grade. “One of the things that sets her apart is she is very humble and helps her peers.”

Uwamanzu-Nna’s acceptance coup is the second in as many years for Elmont Memorial — a culturally diverse school just east on the Queens border, where almost all students are of African-American, African or Caribbean background. Last spring, Harold Ekeh, an Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist, held the keys to all eight Ivy League schools, plus five others. He opted to attend Yale, where he is finishing up his freshman year.

Uwamanzu-Nna, who this year was an Intel finalist, met President Obama last month when he hosted a national science fair at the White House. She was honored for her research into the use of a specialized clay to improve the performance of cement in helping to seal offshore oil rigs against leaking.

The president announced over the weekend that his daughter Malia will attend Harvard also. But unlike the famous first daughter, who plans to take a gap year, Uwamanzu-Nna said she will plow straight ahead, and begin attending Harvard classes this fall.

Uwamanzu-Nna will hardly take time to savor her Harvard decision.

She faces a battery of exams in advanced subjects over the next several days.

“I have AP physics tomorrow and two more this week and one next week,” she said Monday. “So for now, I just want to focus and get back into the swing of things.”

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