“Anyone who’s motivated can work wonders” – Saheela Ibraheem, 19-Year-Old Nigerian Harvard student


Saheela Ibraheem, 19-Year-Old Nigerian Harvard student

Saheela Ibraheem – Viva Naija was created to celebrate and elevate our country Nigeria and her people, and it is our intention to flood you with stories that will fill you with pride, that will make you glad you were born Nigerian, so much so that there will be little room for negativity. So little room that every Nigerian holds their head high and walks with pride saying “African by birth, Nigerian by the grace of God.”

Saheela Ibraheem helps us get one step closer to this goal: meet the beautiful and intelligent young woman who is doing us proud in the States.

Something of a genius with a SAT score of 2,340, Saheela applied to fourteen universities in 2011, gaining admission into thirteen of them (Stanford, MIT and Cornell included). She decided on Harvard, choosing to study neurobiology with the intention of becoming a research scientist who studies the brain.

Saleeha Ibraheem and her mother Bola Ibraheem

Still, Saheela Ibraheem is modest about her achievements and believes that with effort and the right kind of support, anyone can achieve greatness. “I try my best in everything I do,” she said. “Anyone who’s motivated can work wonders.”

When she introduced the US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle at a Black History Month event which held in the Green Room of the White House last year, Obama spoke proudly of her saying:

“She’s like the State Department and the National Institutes of Health all rolled into one. Young people like this inspire our future.”

You’d think it was enough to be ranked 21st on The Best Schools’ list of the world’s smartest teenagers but Saheela is not just academically gifted. She’s sung in the school choir, played the trombone, was a defender for the school soccer team, was on the swim team and headed the school’s investment club.

This thrills us no end because it encapsulates EVERYTHING we stand for at Viva Naija – a young, Nigerian, devout (if her hijab is anything to go by) Muslim woman breaking boundaries and stereotypes and showing us all what greatness looks like.

We couldn’t be more proud.

Viva Saheela!

Viva Naija!

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