18-year-old Nigeria native Nkechinyere Chidi-Ogbolu is not your typical teen. Chidi-Ogbolu just graduated summa cum laude from Howard University with a degree in chemical engineering; making her the youngest person to graduate from Howard this year, and one of the youngest in Howard’s history. But that’s not all for Chidi-Ogbolu. She’s now preparing to start a Ph.D. program at the University of California-Davis after the summer ends. She’ll be studying biomedical engineering with a focus on creating and discovering new medicines.
Chidi-Ogbolu said she’s always been the youngest person in her classes. While most students from Nigeria graduate high school at the age of 16, Chidi-Ogbolu finished high school particularly early, at 14, since she skipped 5th grade and attended an accelerated high school. After high school, she left Nigeria for America and enrolled full-time at Howard University, a historically black university and her first-choice school. “I thought I would be more comfortable at the age going to a school with more people that looked like me and therefore I could more easily relate to,” said Chidi-Ogbolu. “Plus, they gave me a full scholarship, so that definitely helped.”
She started working on her graduate school applications during her senior year. “I can’t say it was stress-free,” she jokes. Her hard work paid off on February 7, when she received her acceptance letter from UC-Davis. “It was definitely a wonderful moment,” she says.
Prasant Mohapatra, UC Davis vice provost of graduate education, and dean of graduate studies, had this to say about Chidi-Ogbolu: “We are delighted to welcome Nkechinyere into the graduate education community at UC Davis. We hope to provide a dynamic educational experience that will deepen and expand her passion for advancing the field of biomedical engineering, and we are truly impressed by her future plans to help people worldwide through scientific research and innovation.”
Chidi-Ogbolu also has some advice for teens her age.
“Don’t limit yourself because you think you can’t do it or because no one you know had done it,” she advises. “You can always be the exception to the rule and end up being exceptional.”
Source: USA TODAY College contributor network.