Teen Accepted To 15 Universities And Awarded Million Dollar Scholarship After Going On Game Show | TOTUM
Ben Hayward June 19th
2022

A teenager from Alabama has been offered a place at no fewer than 15 prestigious US universities - including both Yale and Harvard - as well as being awarded $2,000,000 (£1,635,924.00) in scholarships.

Rotimi Kukoyi says he was given the push to apply to numerous universities after he met a group of other high achieving students when taking part in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament back in 2018.

After sending off his applications, Kukoyi was accepted into Stanford, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt, Emory, Rice, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the University of Alabama, Case Western Reserve University, UAB, Auburn University and Washington University in St. Louis! 

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After much deliberation, he decided to take up the offer from UNC Chapel Hill where he accepted a place on the Morehead-Cain Scholarship - described as ‘a four-year, fully funded educational experience for exceptional student leaders’ - and the oldest scholarship of its kind in the US.  

On top of his success, Kukoyi is also the first Black National Merit Scholar at his school. 

Speaking about his Jeopardy experience in an interview with ABC News, the student said: “It was [a] really fun experience but also put me in contact with some pretty cool students from across the country.

“A lot of them are older and they're like seniors or juniors that applied to many prestigious schools. A lot of them are attending prestigious universities now. So that was kind of my original inspiration to apply to those universities."

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With his academic future now in-hand, Kukoyi now wants to focus on pursuing a career in public health, a decision he came to as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which he helped the Alabama Department of Health get residents vaccinated after winning a TikTok competition.

Aimed at young people aged between 13 and 29, the department sponsored the social media contest as part of a scheme to encourage more residents to take up the vaccine, as the state was experiencing low uptake. 

Speaking to ABC, Kukoyi said he wanted to help change people’s perceptions of the vaccines and help convince people top get heir jabs. 

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He told his TikTok followers: “So why did I get the vaccine? This is my why. COVID deaths shouldn't be normalised. The vaccines are safe and effective."

Explaining how the experience helped shape his career aspirations, Kukoyi said: “COVID really sparked [my interest in public health] because that was the first time that I really saw how clear the health inequities were.”

"African Americans had a much higher chance of dying from COVID than white Americans,” he added.

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