Long Island High School Student Sweeps All Eight Ivies

Mike McPhate, New York Times, April 6, 2016

As a Long Island high school student checked her phone for the results of her college admissions applications, she was overcome by disbelief.

One by one, each relayed the same news: Harvard. Yes. Dartmouth. Yes. Princeton. Yes. The University of Pennsylvania. Yes. Cornell, Yale, Columbia, Brown: yes, yes, yes, yes.

It was March 31, the emotion-filled day when Ivy League universities posted their decisions online. And Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna, a senior at Elmont Memorial High School, became the second student there to pull off an exceedingly rare feat: She swept all eight.

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The accomplishment is all the more remarkable given the increasingly fierce competition that has driven down acceptance rates at selective universities for years. Harvard’s, for example, was 5.2 percent this year, down from 9.3 percent in 2006. {snip}

What’s more, Ms. Uwamanzu-Nna (pronounced oo-wah-man-ZOO-nah) is just the latest student from her school to do it. In 2015, Harold Ekeh drew national headlines when he was accepted to 13 universities, including all eight Ivies.

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Ms. Uwamanzu-Nna, however, had a lot going for her–a better-than-perfect grade point average, made possible by taking the hardest classes, and the distinctions of being both valedictorian of her class and a finalist in the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search.

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Ms. Uwamanzu-Nna also presented a compelling personal story. As the daughter of Nigerian emigrants, she shared something with many of the Ivy League sweepers in recent years. They tend to have immigrant backgrounds.

American universities, especially the Ivies, have been placing greater emphasis on diversifying their student populations, admissions counselors say.

“They are very concerned about racial and ethnic diversity,” Mr. Skarlis said. “They would rather have the Latino kid from the Bronx who has overcome something significant in his life, rather than the upper-middle-class or more affluent white student.”

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