Saheela Ibraheem, a polite and humble,15 year-old Nigerian prodigy, who lives in Edison New Jersey and doesn’t even qualify to get a driver’s license in the United States, has been admitted to Harvard, where the current contenders in the race for the White House, President Obama and Mitt Romney attended. She was also accepted into 13 other Ivy League schools which include MIT Princeton and Columbia, only Yale failed to admit her. She eventually settled for Harvard after falling in love with the campus. For many parents thinking of their kids going to this prestigious school is only a pipe dream so far fetched from the firm grip of reality.
Ibraheem skipped two grades and said the gateway to success is figuring out what you love to learn as early as possible — something she did at age 5. If you are passionate about what you do, and I am passionate about most of these things, especially with math and science, it will work out well,” Ibraheem said.
Her mother, Shakirat Ibraheem, said Saheela has been way ahead of the academic game as early as kindergarten — never cutting corners and trying to do everything on her own.
“She’s like always independent,” the teen’s mother said. “I never get to help with her homework because she’d say ‘it’s my work mommy, not yours.’”
The Harvard-assured teen speaks Arabic, Spanish and Latin. She hopes to become a research scientist and study the brain. Her teachers at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School said their student was an old soul.
“I believe that she’s 15 years old, because I’m told that. But other than that I have a hard time,” Jim O’Halloran said.
In addition to academics, Ibraheem plays the trombone, softball and soccer. Despite her activities, she said her number one priority was her family. Her 7-year-old brother Saleem was her biggest cheerleader in picking a college.
“I was really psyched because she got into a great school and I wanted to go to Harvard, too,” her brother said. As far as Ibraheem’s advice for her fellow aspiring students?
“Kids should try to listen to their parents most of the time. They know what they’re doing,” she said. A good education and impressive credentials is the gateway to success in the present economic climate of cut throat competition and economic down turn. Saheela has stepped on a springboard and hopefully she will pursue her dream to the end armed with deep passion to see her dream come true. For the mind is a terrible thing to waste.