Normandy High Senior Overcomes Hardships to Land Slot in Ivy League School

Elisa Crouch, STL Today, May 10, 2012

To get to Normandy High School, Eboni Boykin passes a blighted landscape she can’t wait to leave—streets filled with abandoned homes, litter-strewn lots and shuttered businesses.

She’s spent much of her childhood in and out of homeless shelters. She’s attended more schools than she can easily keep track of—most of them struggling urban schools where disruptions and low expectations are the norm.

But visions of the Ivy League have motivated this high school senior since she was 13, when she became captivated by a character’s similar quest on the television drama “Gilmore Girls.” This fall, she’ll fulfill her goal by heading to Columbia University on a full scholarship.

Eboni’s story in many ways is like those of many children in urban schools. It’s one filled with obstacles of poverty that many never overcome. But her ascent to the Ivy League illustrates what is possible, even at the most challenged schools, when students have a mind-set different from their circumstances.


At home, Eboni has a supportive mother who dropped out of high school and hasn’t always related to her ambitions. At Normandy High, the petite 17-year-old is one of about 25 honor students among a student body with a dropout rate in the double digits. Last year, 74 percent of students there failed the state’s English 2 exam, and 83 percent failed the math exam.


Eboni’s mother, Lekista Flurry, was 17 when she gave birth to Eboni and dropped out of Pattonville High School. Eboni rarely hears from her father.

No one from Eboni’s immediate family has graduated with a high school diploma. But when Eboni was a baby, Flurry began reading to her. She read through many of their moves, though it stopped when the family was in homeless shelters. She used letter-shaped refrigerator magnets to work on spelling.


The family struggles, but Eboni tries to focus on what’s ahead.

For years, she read anything she could find on Ivy League colleges. When she had the money, she’d order books on Amazon about how to successfully apply.

“I’ve been in love with all eight of them at one point, except for Dartmouth,” she said.

She scored a 27 on her ACT, when the average composite score at Normandy High last year was a 16. No one has ever scored higher than a 27 at the high school, according to the school district.

Last summer, Eboni attended a journalism program at Princeton University. There, instructors helped her decide on a college. She chose Columbia.

She applied, and then waited. On Dec. 8, while editing the school newspaper after school, she logged on to the university’s website. It was 4 p.m.—the time the university would post its acceptance and rejection letters for early admissions. Eboni pulled up the letter addressed to her. “Congratulations!” it began.

Along with the acceptance notification, Eboni received another letter saying all expenses were paid.

Eboni cried.

Her goal is to become a journalist.

She knows many of her college classmates will come from elite high schools with stronger academic backgrounds. And she knows she’ll have to work harder than many of them to make up for it.

While Eboni’s ACT score is high for Normandy students, it is on the bottom edge of Columbia’s incoming freshmen. Columbia’s admissions office “takes a broad range of qualifications and characteristics into consideration” when reviewing applicants, university spokeswoman Katherine Cutler said.


[Editor’s Note: The top score on the ACT is 36. Students between the 25th and 75th percentile of those accepted to Columbia score between 31 and 34 on the test.]

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  • I got a 30 on my ACT, not good enough for any Ivies.  A classmate (also a white man) got the same 27 as Miss Boykin, and the most prestigious private college that would admit him was Cornell College (Iowa).

    I can assure you that the “range of qualifications and characteristics” that Columbia used to admit her weren’t that “broad.”

    On the other hand, this article is good, because if you can read between the lines, it puts three liberal/black bromides about crime to bed:

    First, it says that she walks by abandoned buildings and businesses on her way to and from school every day.  I thought abandoned buildings had some sort of magical power — All you had to do is walk past one, and it instilled in you the desire to commit a violent crime.

    Second, she resisted the youth culture that dominates Normandy High.  I thought the “wrong crowd” was like a black hole whose gravitational attraction was so strong that nobody or nothing could resist getting sucked in.

    Third, she has attended four different schools since the eighth grade.  I thought everyone who changed schools a lot was such a hopeless loser that they might as well have dropped out and started dealing crack.


  • Just out of curiosity, if this girl managed to get a 27 on the ACT in this school full of “underprivileged” children, WHAT is stopping the rest of them?

    • Oil Can Harry

      I have nothing bad to say about this young woman. She grew up in a homeless shelter raised by a single mother, her father having done the Black Man’s Vanishing Act. She had a desire to go to college while her ghetto classmates were dropping out and joining gangs. 

      I just wish more of her community acted like she does instead of emulating gangsta-wannabes like Trayvon the Thug.

      • Rocky Bass

         There are and have always been exceptions, there are blacks smarter than some whites. The problem is one of averages and the mean intellectual ability of blacks, in general, is lower than that which would facilitate a modern civilization. It’s great that this girl is doing well (or well enough Columbia thinks they can carry her) but she is not the problem or the solution, she is an exception. She is that “high functioning” black we will now be told is normal and an example of what is possible when all of our institutional racism somehow, through her incredible strength and courage is overcome.
        She is a FREAK nothing more nothing less.   

      • Djinn42

         I couldn’t agree more, blacks are so caught up in the fairytale of skin color being the culprit of racism that they never lean far enough away from that crutch to understand that content of character could be the possible link to White disgust.
        Even given their lower I.Q.s had their race did all that was possible to better themselves at their own behest long ago there would at this point probably be more acceptance and assimilation.
        Though physically I prefer my own race I have never looked at a black and held them in content for their skin color alone, it’s the collective aspects of the race that causes my disgust.

  • Doing a little googling, it looks like a 27 on the ACT places her in the 87th percentile of all students. If she were white, she’d be able to get into average state schools, probably not so much the better state schools like UVa, UM, or the UCs. Ivy league would be totally out of the question if she wasn’t black.

    • JohnEngelman

      Either she will flunk out, or she will get a degree in black studies. 

  • Question for those of you who might know the answer:

    Have there been any “recentering” monkeyshines with the ACT like there were with the SAT?  The reason I ask is that I’m wondering if a 27 in the ACT in 1994 and a 27 in the ACT in 2012 can be compared apples to apples.  I know the SAT was recentered at least twice between 1994 and when the essay section was added.

    I took the SAT at the last test sitting before the first recentering.  The next school year, my high school guidance counselor showed me a conversion chart between the old and new SAT scores given a raw score of correct questions.  I would have gotten an extra 90 points with the same raw score had I waited a few months.  He told me the colleges were wise to this, and then I asked him what the point of recentering was to begin with.  He was tongue tied, but I think he knew I knew that my question was rhetorical and I already knew the answer.  I found out that after recentering, it was possible to get a “perfect” 800 without answering every question correctly.  That would explain the rash of “perfect 1600s” you might have heard about starting in the mid-1990s.

    • geraldmartin

      I don’t believe the ACT has been re-centered. There’s nothing about it at wikipedia, which does discuss the SAT re-centering. That doesn’t necessarily mean the test hasn’t been significantly changed, like the SAT has, to make it more “minority-friendly” and “woman-friendly.”  Analogies, which once comprised 15% of the verbal questions, have been entirely removed from the SAT because blacks and hispanics did poorly on them. The writing section was predicted to be a boon for girls, and has introduced a significant amount of subjective grading into SAT scoring. Articulate verbosity is rewarded; laconic understatement or concision in general is not. Also, factual errors in the essay do not affect the grade – all they’re looking for is good diction, vocabulary, etc. 

      According to Steve Sailer (who writes a lot on this subject) the hoped for improvements in black – hispanic scores haven’t materialized, and I don’t think girls have done much better either. The one group which does seem to have made gains is Asians, because the toughest math questions are not quite as tough as they used to be, and are more solvable through the “drill and kill” techniques that Asians supposedly use to prep for and use on the test. The number of Asians with perfect math scores skyrocketed after re-centering.

      So it seems the SAT, at least, is less a rough IQ test than it used to be and more of a straight knowledge test.

      • MikeofAges

         The “new” SAT is the biggest point shaving scandal in collegiate history. Take points away from whatever disadvantaged white and Asian students take the test and give them to rich kids. At least the Educational Testing Service was minimally honest about what it was doing. It changed the name of the test from the Scholastic Aptitude Test to the Scholastic Assessment Test.

        But ETS did little to nothing to explain what this change really meant. What it meant was that ETS was doing whatever it could to bury the idea that there is such a thing as innate aptitude, which differs from past performance. Who wins, and who loses in this switcheroo? I say, whites from working class, lower middle class and economically disadvantaged backgrounds are the biggest losers.

        The MENSA organization (that stuffy, self-absorbed, and not really very selective high I.Q. club) does not accept the “new” SAT for membership. Not because the scores, in all likelihood, do not correlate closely with I.Q. and other aptitude measurements. It is because they know the post-1994 SAT is not an aptitude test.

  •  “it is on the bottom edge of Columbia’s incoming freshmen.” So thats even with affirmative action

  • Francis Galton

    A few days ago here in Norfolk, VA, the Virginian-Pilot (yes, THAT one!) had a similar sob/success story about a man with a troubled past who “graduated” from Old Dominion University and then “gained” acceptance to Harvard Medical School:

    While he may have been admitted to Harvard Medical School even if he were White (given his college GPA and so forth), I cannot help but  believe that, at the very least, his race gave him a leg up at some point; how many White high school flunkies end up going to any professional school, much less getting a full scholarship to a top medical school?  Honestly….

    • I didn’t dropout of school, but went to college later in life.  At 27, it was difficult getting accepted anywhere even with the proper qualifications.  I still earned a degree.  I’m proud of it…because I earned it!

    • deep_enough

      Lots of ink about his grades, but where does it say anything about test scores?  

      Last I looked, the average black MCAT score at Havard wasn’t high enough to get a white person into any American medical school. 

    •  I blogged about it.  Pay attention to the first comment:

  • I really don’t see anything exceptional about the girl, the article is lacking in specifics, probably for good reason.  Looks like a case of “the best of the worst”, the same criteria that got obama into Columbia no doubt.  The better qualified candidate who lost their slot to the black prodigy is probably better off were ever they end up, because a school that has so many arbitrary standards also has lower standards.

  • Anan7

    I must admit that the “[Editor’s Note: The top score on the ACT is 36. Students between the
    25th and 75th percentile of those accepted to Columbia score between 31
    and 34 on the test.]” really clinches it.  This is one reason I love AmRen and read it everyday: it reports on the nonsense that none of the MSM (Fox included) has the courage to report.

    They were thinking of rescinding the use of the SAT here at my University because it wouldn’t encourage as many blacks to join.  This administration is a disgrace to education.

  •  Normandy district was once the desirable school district in North County, bar none.  But that was a long time ago.

    Normandy isn’t in any great shape by itself, thanks to you know who.  But they only made themselves worse by absorbing the Wellston district, which also failed because of you know who.

  • Southern__Hoosier

    “Her goal is to become a journalist.”

    She will make it.  Just long as stays away from science, math and economic classes and takes plenty of Black studies and other crip courses.

  • Johnny Reb

    A 27 when everyone else gets 16 would make me want to check that test REAL close.

    But, assuming she legitimately scored a 27, she’s still going to be lost if the low score for 75% of her fellow Ivy Leaguers is a 31. She’s already starting out in the lowest 25%

    As a 27 in a world of 16s, she’s used to teachers and students thinking she was a “brain.”  Everyone slobbered all over her and patted her on the back.   Now comes the real world where she’s expected to keep up with her much smarter and better educated classmates and produce top-quality work.

    I don’t think she can.  Blacks just don’t have the emotional stability.

    I predict nervous breakdown by the end of the first semester. I predict she doesn’t complete the second semester and is back on the block, pregnant and talking trash about white people.

    •  16 is the average of the school’s students that take the test, which is a self-selecting sample.  The average would be even lower if they made all students take the test.  So she’s a 27 competing with 16 in Normandy’s universe of those that think they can go to college, and competing with maybe 10 at best in the general student body.

    • geraldmartin

      I wouldn’t sell her that short. She is probably reasonable intelligent if her 27 score is real. If she sticks with journalism and takes humanities courses she will likely be coddled and “brought along” by white professors who drink the equality kool-aid with their dinner wine and want to enhance their private view of themselves as dedicated racial altruists. (And I suspect Columbia has a number of black female professors of the affirmative action persuasion who won’t want to see a “sistah” fail.) 

    •  Somehow I think the black prodigy will get as many free passes as she needs at Columbia, much like Obama got at Harvard law school

  • Southern__Hoosier

    ” I also don`t see why having parents who would rather buy a bottle than a book  makes for a better and more deserving student…”

    Bottles or books have nothing to do with it, it is all about race. A white kid with her background would never get the royal treatment she got.

    • Lavender Menace

       But what if she was a white student from Appalachia?

  • Formerly_Known_as_Whiteplight

    Letting in the riff raff of any color into the Ivy League colleges is what has greatly contributed to the demise of America.

    • MikeofAges

       The “Ivys” can do what they want. Fighting the “Ivy” monopoly should be one of the first orders of business.

  • s shadow

    This site compares IQ to ACT and SAT.  According to this site she will be 1 S.D. lower than the average Columbia student.  She will have to take easier courses unless she is a raging workaholic. 

    Racial test scores are always suspect.  Obama was in the lower 15% in Occidental, but graduated Magna cum Laude at Harvard Law School, but won’t release his academic records.  Blessed are they who have a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance.

  • radical7

    Wonderful story.

  • anarchyst

    This situation is no worse than our non-vetted “affirmative action” president . . .

  • Flytrap

    I’m curious how she’ll do.  If she is disciplined enough, I can see where she could graduate on her own.  Her story is compelling and she’s worth taking a chance on.   If she can’t keep up, they need to kick her to the curb though. 

  • MikeofAges

     There is huge difference even within majors. At Stanford, at least in the 1970 and 80s, there was one concentration within the engineering program in which the students were not required to take calculus until their senior. I think these were people who were expected to go into management rather than design or product r&d. May still be that way, for all I know.