Augusta Uwamanzu-Nna has accomplished something very few people can claim to have done. The 17-year-old high school senior recently received acceptance letters from the eight different Ivy League schools she applied to.
The valedictorian with top-ranking credentials credits her success to her tenacity and persistence, qualities she depended on while doing her civil-engineering research project in high school, reported Business Insider.
She recalled her scientific research about fluid mechanics with cement and concrete by measuring strength of samples. Her school, however, lacked the needed tools to test her experiments so she had to improvise.
“I had to jury-rig this weird thing and use bench weights from my school’s weight room to measure the strength of samples,” Uwamanzu-Nna said.
While her strategy worked, she understood that to be able to finish her research, she would need a full-functioning lab, so she then applied to work in a Columbia University research lab.
When her application was rejected, she sought an internship at New York University’s engineering school instead. With Columbia’s lab as her first choice, however, she kept in touch with a Columbia lab researcher and persisted until she was eventually accepted the following summer.
“The head researcher at Columbia was very impressed by my tenacity, by my persistence, and by the fact that I was 16 and doing cement and concrete research,” she said.
The experience gave her the chance to work among PhD and master’s students in the lab while doing her research.
“As a high schooler, what really explains my recent accomplishment is finding something I am passionate about,” she said, “and not being afraid of stepping outside of my comfort zone.”