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17-year-old First-generation Nigerian-American Ashley Adirika Headed To Harvard After Earning Acceptance To All U.S. 8 Ivy League Universities

A first-generation Nigerian-American teen who spent nearly four hours each day commuting to and from her high school on a bus has been accepted to all eight Ivy League universities.

Ashley Adirika, 17, from Miami Gardens, Florida, is headed to Harvard University on a full ride next fall to study government after graduating from Miami Beach Senior High School on June 1. 

The former student body president told the Miami Herald she’d always dreamed of attending an Ivy League college and applied to all eight after a friend encouraged her to ‘shoot her shot.’ 

 

The impressive teen graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School on June 1

The impressive teen graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School on June 1

Acceptance letters and scholarships to Harvard, Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University soon followed. 

‘It was surreal,’ she told the newspaper. ‘It felt amazing to know the work that I put into my educational journey was paying off and to see [colleges] recognize that.’

In addition to being a stellar student, Adirika has a passion for speech and debate that started when she was an eighth grade student at Carol City Middle School. 

Bess Rodriguez, a seventh grade English language arts teacher at the school, had heard of her impressive academic record and recruited her for the team.  

‘Everybody knew Ashley because of how smart she was. She had test scores through the roof; she’s involved in all different activities,” Rodriguez told ABC News. ‘So I recruited her, and she had never debated before.’ 

The former student body president told the Miami Herald she'd always dreamed of attending an Ivy League college and applied to all eight after a friend encouraged her to 'shoot her shot'

The former student body president told the Miami Herald she’d always dreamed of attending an Ivy League college and applied to all eight after a friend encouraged her to ‘shoot her shot’

Adrika’s poise and confidence while debating complex topics such as criminal justice reform earned her praise from tenured lawyers and competition judges. 

When high school rolled around, she made the decision to take on a lengthy commute to Miami Beach Senior High School, which is nearly two hours away from her home. 

Not only did her older siblings go there, but she also knew the school could offer her more opportunities than the one in her neighborhood. 

She told the Miami Herald that she was particularly drawn to the school’s ‘amazing speech and debate program.’ 

As a freshman member of the speech and debate team, she came in second at the state championship. 

One of the reasons she commuted to Miami Beach Senior High School was because of its 'amazing speech and debate program'

One of the reasons she commuted to Miami Beach Senior High School was because of its ‘amazing speech and debate program’

Adrika credits her mothers and older sisters for encouraging her to pursue her passions and give back to the community

Adrika credits her mothers and older sisters for encouraging her to pursue her passions and give back to the community

More recently, she and her partner were named to the two qualifying teams that will represent Miami-Dade County in the national debate in Kentucky next week. 

Adrika credits her mothers and older sisters for encouraging her to pursue her passions and give back to the community. 

‘They empowered me and supported me throughout the entire way. So whatever dream I have, big or small, they’ve just been my No. 1 fans,’ she told ABC News.

Adrika experienced instability growing up, and she saw sacrifice first hand when her eldest sister, Tracy Adirika, turned down acceptance to Princeton University to become her and her siblings’ guardian.   

Adrika said she doesn't 'want to be defined by any of [her] struggles' when she moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for her freshman year at Harvard

Adrika said she doesn’t ‘want to be defined by any of [her] struggles’ when she moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for her freshman year at Harvard

‘I want to use those experiences to create an impact,’ she said 

She was a sophomore when she founded Our Story Our Worth, a community organization that empowers young female students of color through mentorship, service, and sisterhood. 

Tracy was by her side when she opened all eight of her Ivy League acceptance letters, a moment that neither of them will forget. 

‘Being there to support her and witness that day was one of the best moments of my life,’ Tracy told the Miami Herald. 

Adrika said she doesn’t ‘want to be defined by any of [her] struggles’ when she moves to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for her freshman year at Harvard.  

‘I want to use those experiences to create an impact,’ she explained. 

Originally published in Daily Mail (UK)

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