What would you do if you were accepted by 15 prestigious universities and were awarded scholarships worth $2 million? First of all, you wouldn’t believe it, as it may sound fictitious to you. But you would be amazed to know that it happened with Rotimi Kukoyi, a high school senior from Hoover, Alabama. It dated back to 2018 when he first appeared on the “Jeopardy Teen Tournament” and met some incredible people there. Some of them were junior to him, while some were even older than his age and came from reputable institutes all over the world. As of now, he has been accepted to 15 different esteemed universities and has been awarded a scholarship of more than $2 million.
Definitely a proud moment for him. Regarding his first interaction during the competition, he said: “It was [a] really fun experience, but [it] 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.”
Kukoyi, who is also the first black National Merit Scholar at his school, has been welcomed by Stanford, Yale, 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. This is a worthwhile living accomplishment. However, finally, Kukoyi has made a decision and chose the “University of North Carolina” at Chapel Hill and has accepted the school’s Morehead-Cain Scholarship.
Kukoyi hasn’t just randomly decided to choose the university, instead, there is a very logical reason behind this decision that sparked his interest. His decision is mainly derived from the COVID-19 pandemic and an urge to get all the residents of the Alabama Health Department vaccinated. Following this, he opted for a degree in “Health Policy and Management.” Moreover, in an interview with ABC News, he stated, “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 … It was almost like there were two separate pandemics impacting our nation, and we saw [some people] marginalized and impacted way more. “
He seems so passionate about public health, and this can be demonstrated in a recent TikTok contest that took place in August 2021, in which he participated and was among the four winners. The winners urged the students through their TikTok videos to get vaccinated before the start of school again to remain safe from COVID 19. In his video, he said, “So why did I get the vaccine? This is my way. COVID deaths shouldn’t be “normalized” and vaccines are safe and effective”.
To that end, he is now working for humanity by assisting his fellow beings and other students in the preparation for the preliminary SAT or the tests for National Merit scholarships. He said, “I want my legacy to be one that’s focused on impacting other people. I suppose a lot of people, in the pursuit of their own goals, can kind of forget what it’s all about”.