Chidi-Ogbolu Graduates Howard University To Start Ph.D At 18

Brilliant and young Nkechinyere Chidi-Ogbolu is a Nigerian based in the US and has just graduated summa cum laude from Howard University as one of the youngest with a degree in chemical engineering.

But that’s not the drill of the story, the youngster is preparing to enrol for a PhD program at the University of California-Davis after the summer. According to Chidi-Ogbolu from the Igbo tribe of Nigeria, she’ll be studying biomedical engineering with a focus on creating and discovering new medicines.

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Speaking to USA TODAY College in an interview she said:

“I’ve always been interested in the medical field. But I want to have a broader scale of an impact than in treating patients one-on-one.”

Chidi-Ogbolu also said she has always been the youngest pupil in her classes while schooling in Nigeria where she finished secondary school particularly early at 14 since she skipped 5th grade and attended an accelerated high school.

The teenager left Nigeria for America after secondary school to gain admission at Howard University, a historically black university, and her first-choice school and with full scholarship.

“I thought I would be more comfortable at the age going to a school with more people that looked like me and therefore I could more easily relate to,” she said.

“Plus, they gave me a full scholarship, so that definitely helped.”

While her parents reside in Nigeria, Chidi-Ogbolu stayed in the school dorm but many of her extended family members live in America, including an aunt who lived not far from her dorm, and other family members in Texas and Alabama. She gives the credit for her ability to adapt to her new environment to her family’s support.

“I spoke to my mum almost every day on the phone — for over an hour almost every time. My dad and I talked really often too. Talking to them definitely helped sometimes when things were overwhelming, plus “I spent most holidays with her aunts here [America].

“My support system was a very big part of why I was able to stay very grounded during the whole journey.”

Chidi-Ogbolu said her friends were shocked when they learned about her age, but they usually turn protective. She spent the summer after her junior year researching African weather patterns with Professor Paul Ullrich at UC-Davis.

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Prasant Mohapatra, UC Davis vice provost of graduate education, and dean of graduate studies had this to say about Chidi-Ogbolu:

“We are delighted to welcome Nkechinyere into the graduate education community at UC Davis. We hope to provide a dynamic educational experience that will deepen and expand her passion for advancing the field of biomedical engineering, and we are truly impressed by her future plans to help people worldwide through scientific research and innovation.”

This summer, she’s taking an advanced biology class at a local community college to prepare for her doctoral program and she’s also working on a book, provisionally entitled Tales of an Uber Minor in College.

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