Thrive

This Nigerian teenager received Yale, Stanford, MIT and other top college acceptances while in Lagos

BY Preta Peace Namasaba June 24, 2024 5:06 PM EDT

Nigerian teenager Emmanuela Ilok has secured full scholarships to study Computer Science at multiple Ivy League institutions. She has received acceptance offers from MIT, Stanford, Yale, UPenn, Princeton, Columbia, Georgia Tech, Washington University, University of Chicago, Duke, and Granger College of Engineering. Ilok was part of the Greensprings School IB diploma class that earned over $8.5 million worth of scholarships in April to study at prestigious universities.

“I particularly commend Emmanuela Ilok who was awarded full scholarships into Ivy League universities like MIT and Yale, among others, with a 1% acceptance rate. Emmanuela has journeyed with us from pre-school, all through elementary, secondary, and now the IB Diploma Programme. She has been a high achiever and as a school, we have ensured that we provide the adequate support and environment she needs to attain her full potential. Seeing her succeed this way makes us proud of her,” said the Deputy Director of Education at Greensprings School in Lagos, Nigeria.

Her excellent academic performance and participation in extracurricular activities have been key to securing scholarships from these highly selective institutions. Ilok was recognized as the country’s top performer in the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) by the British Council. She credits the robust curriculum and rigor of her school’s IB Diploma Programme, a two-year sixth-form program designed to prepare secondary school students for life in tertiary institutions for shaping her success.

Ilok has been fascinated by the inner workings of computer systems since she was a child. This interest has blossomed into a passion for software engineering, machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence. She was one of the top participants in the YTBC business competition having developed an app to tackle insecurity in Nigeria. Ilok is a Young-Yale African scholar and Girls Can Code alumnus.

“I would describe myself as an ambitious, enthusiastic, and at the same time jovial individual whose passion lies greatly in technology and its potential to make improvements in different fields of human endeavor. Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by the inner workings of computer systems and as a result, my passion in that area has grown over the years. I aspire to be a Software Engineer in future, using my technical skills to make positive changes to disadvantaged individuals and communities. I am a strong believer in the theory of social learning, whereby humans learn best around others and as a result, I am very open to learning from others and hearing different ideas and viewpoints,” Ilok said about her early interest in computers.

In 2022, Ilok won the prestigious RISE program, a flagship initiative of a $1 billion commitment by Eric and Wendy Schmidt towards nurturing talent and fostering development across various initiatives. 16 years old at the time, she developed a program called ‘CodEd’ which provided teacher training, student curriculum, and internship opportunities to improve computer science education in public schools compared to private schools. She won a variety of prizes including an invitation to attend a fully-funded, three-week residential summit with other members of the Rise Global Winner cohort, a four-year, post-secondary scholarship at any accredited university, and technology packages, among others.

Ilok aspires to become a software engineer. She hopes to leverage her expertise in the field to bridge the disparity between the quality of computer science education in public and private schools. The acceptance offers and scholarships from the world’s most elite institutions of higher learning bring her closer to achieving her dreams.