Elmont Memorial High School senior Harold Ekeh boasts a grade-point average of 100.5 percent, an SAT score of 2270 and was a semifinalist for the national Intel Science Talent Search.
“My parents’ hard work and my hard work finally paid off,” Ekeh, 17, told The Post.
Ekeh now has his pick of the nation’s elite institutions of higher learning: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth and the University of Pennsylvania — none of which accepts more than 14 percent of applicants.
Ekeh moved to New York from Nigeria at age 8 and wowed admissions officers with an essay about the challenges he braved while “coming to America,” he said.
“My parents left comfortable lives in Nigeria for their kids to have opportunities. So I take advantage of every single opportunity that has been afforded to me,” said Ekeh, who hopes to become a neurosurgeon.
“It was very difficult to adjust . . . I spoke English but with a very heavy accent. It was like, ‘What is this kid saying?’ ” he continued.
In his free time, he does what most other teens his age don’t do — toiling over biochemistry experiments. His grandma’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis — and his own inspiration to find a cure for the degenerative brain disease — fueled his passion for science, he said.
The hardworking student, a salutatorian who also plays the drums, mentors and volunteers for a social-justice campaign, credited his parents, Paul and Roselin — former clerks at a Target store in Queens — for challenging him to study and do his best, “no matter how hard times got,” he said.
“No matter how many times they would get knocked down, they were always positive,” he said.
“Anybody who sees my story can say, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ I’m just a kid who had a real strong support system.”
Ekeh was accepted into the other five schools he applied to: MIT, NYU, Johns Hopkins University, Stony Brook University and Vanderbilt University.
“Never would I have expected to get into all 13 schools. I just wanted to increase my chances of getting into one of them,” he said.
He took his amazing accomplishments in stride.
When he learned he’d been admitted to all of the country’s best schools last Tuesday, he celebrated by going to Bible study — and then to Chipotle.
“I don’t see it as an accomplishment for me. I see it as an accomplishment for my community. I hope it inspires the younger generation, not just in Elmont, but overall,” he said.