A high school senior from Alabama was accepted to over 15 top universities and received more than $2 million in scholarship offers.
Rotimi Kukoyi was accepted to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, and Duke, among other universities. The Alabama teen ultimately chose the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he plans to study Health Policy and Management on the school’s prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship.
“With this scholarship, I’m able to choose the path less traveled by, the road not taken, and define my own journey. And have it all paid for,” Kukoyi wrote last month on Instagram. “At UNC, I hope to lay the foundations of a career driving health equity in our nation.”
Kukoyi was the first Black National Merit Scholar at his Hoover, Alabama, high school. He told ABC News that after appearing on the “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament as a freshman in 2018 and meeting high-achieving students from across the United States, he was inspired to apply to multiple schools.
“As a child of immigrants who came to the United States to secure a better future for themselves and their children through the American education system, I’ve always aspired to graduate from high school,” he wrote in an Instagram post in May.
“The past 13 years of hard work have paid off, and I’m incredibly optimistic for what lies ahead. I’m thankful for the close relationships that have supported me throughout this journey, and I’m excited to watch my friends continue to succeed from afar.”
In another post, he stated that selecting a college was “the most agonizing thing I’ve ever done,” and after considering Harvard and Yale, he decided on UNC because of the freedom its scholarship program would provide. The pandemic partly influenced his decision to pursue a career in public health, he told ABC News. He stated that he wishes for his legacy to be one of service to others.
“COVID really sparked [my interest in public health] because that was the first time that I really saw how clear the health inequities were,” the Alabama teenager told ABC news. “African Americans had a much higher chance of dying from COVID than white Americans.
“It was almost like there were two separate pandemics impacting our nation, and we saw [some people] marginalized and impacted way more.”