“Momma, I’m going to make it”

Senior Chiaka Ibe gets accepted to Ivy League, Brown University


Senior Chiaka Ibe smiles as she works during her off time to complete homework. Ibe is determined to make her final semester at Mercy High School one to remember. (Photo Credit: Molly Lyons)

“As soon as I saw the word ‘Congratulations,’ I shrieked,” said senior Chiaka Ibe, describing the moment she heard word back from Brown University, an Ivy League institution. “My parents’ reaction was a million times better than mine. My dad started screaming, and we ran around the entire house celebrating. I’m pretty sure the neighbors could hear us.”

Starting off her senior year, Ibe had her eyes on another stellar academic institution — the University of Michigan. But after touring Brown in early October and doing extensive research on the school, it became her top choice. The extremely competitive Ivy League has an acceptance rate of eight and a half percent.

“I think every senior can attest that college lists change with ease,” said Ibe. Whether it be scholarship opportunities, surprise admittance letters, or a change of heart — the process of choosing a college is long and tiresome. “But it was all worth it,” she said with a smile.

Ibe took the ACT a total of six times. Through Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search, Ibe was able to take her first ACT test at the age of 11.

“At the time, [taking the ACT at such a young age] was frustrating because it seemed so pointless,” said Ibe. “But I can’t complain because the method seemed to work!”

It is interesting to note that Ibe is only 16 years old. Having never skipped a grade, Ibe is one of the youngest in her class.

“It’s weird to me that all my friends can legally vote, but I can’t even watch an R-rated movie,” said Ibe, laughing.

The slight age gap has never discouraged her, though. In fact, it motivated her to succeed and accomplish even more. By participating in Mercy’s soccer program, Spanish Honor Society, science club, and National Honor Society, Ibe has found endless activities and opportunities during her high school journey.

Ibe has a passion for science and medicine. That passion led her to the Emergency Dept. of the Detroit Medical Center, where she worked on the OB-GYN and Emergency Department floors. Ibe helped answer phone calls, run samples to the blood bank and lab, and assisted other doctors with tasks that needed to be completed. Ibe also was able to sit in on multiple surgeries, which she described as being “so much cooler in person than on Grey’s Anatomy.”   

“If you would have asked me a year ago where I thought I would be going for college, my answer would be totally different,” said Ibe. “It’s important to take the time to enjoy high school and not get so caught up in the stress because everything will eventually work itself out.”

For Ibe, there were many moments of uncertainty and frustration.

“When Brown turned into my dream school, my fear of being rejected quadrupled,” admitted Ibe. “I once spent an entire weekend scrolling through College Confidential threads and wondering if I was good enough.”

Getting into college often isn’t easy. With that being said, it’s possible with focus, hard work, and laughter along the way.

“My ultimate goal is to repay my parents for all of the blood, sweat, and tears they have invested into my education,” said Ibe. “I want to be able to say ‘Momma, I made it’ and actually mean it.”