One Nigerian teenager must feel like she has the world at her feet after receiving 19 full-ride scholarship offers from universities across the United States and Canada.
Victory Yinka-Banjo, a 17-year-old high school graduate, was offered more than $5 million dollars’ worth of scholarship money for an undergraduate program of study, according to admission documents and estimates of financial aid awards.
“It still feels pretty unbelievable. I applied to so many schools because I didn’t even think any school would accept me,” Victory told CNN, relishing her academic prowess.
Born to Nigerian parents, Chika Yinka-Banjo, a senior lecturer at the University of Lagos, and Adeyinka Banjo, a private sector procurement and supply chain executive, Victory was given potential full scholarships from the Ivy League schools, Yale College, Princeton University, Harvard College, and Brown University.
Other US scholarship offers included those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia.
In Canada, Victory was offered the Lester B. Pearson scholarship from the University of Toronto and the Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow (KMILOT) scholarship from the University of British Columbia.
“Their admissions processes are extremely selective,” Victory added. “They only accept the best of the best. So, you can imagine how, on a daily basis, I have to remind myself that I actually got into these schools. It is surreal!”
A senior prefect during her time in high school, Victory rose to national prominence in late 2020 after she scored straight As in her West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
Months earlier, the Nigerian teen had been rated as the “Top in the World” in English as a second language (speaking endorsement) by the University of Cambridge International Examination (CIE). Victory aced the Cambridge IGCSE exam – acquiring A* in all six subjects she sat for.
Victory told CNN her remarkable achievements are borne out of hard work.
“They have made me truly feel proud about the hard work I have put into several areas of my life over the years. I am slowly beginning to realize that I deserve them,” she said.
The teenager remarked that her multiple scholarship offers “have made me stand taller, smile wider, and pat myself on the back more often.”
Victory said she hopes to study Computational Biology. However, she is still weighing up her options on which school to choose, having been wooed by many prestigious institutions.
“I am still doing research on some schools that are at the top of my list, like Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and just trying to compare and contrast all of them thoroughly,” she told CNN.
An inspiration to Nigerian youth
Victory’s mother, Chika, says her daughter’s story could inspire other young Nigerians.
“It is noteworthy that she is not one of the Nigerian-Americans who often get into these schools because of their advantage of being born and bred in the US. She completed her secondary school here [in Nigeria]. It would be great if her story can be used to inspire the youths of our country,” she told CNN.
Victory credits her academic success story to faith, parental guidance and discipline. She currently spends some of her free time tutoring other university admission seekers – through the radio – on key subjects such as math, English language, biology, chemistry and physics.