Mohammed Isuf Ahmed from Aldgate, East London, thought his dream of studying at a top university was over when he received a rejection letter from Cambridge, but little did he know that something far greater was in store.
Just two weeks later he received acceptance letters from two of the world’s top three universities – Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.
His mind was made up when MIT offered him a £250,000 scholarship to study physics and aerospace engineering.
“I got rejected by Cambridge at the beginning of January and I was heartbroken,” Mohammed said.
“It was my dream to go to a life-changing university, and I honestly didn’t think I would get into the US universities if I couldn’t get in here.
“But then the MIT letter came and then Harvard. That was unbelievable, I still just can’t believe it. I have decided on MIT because it is the best university in the world for aerospace engineering.”
He was inspired to apply after former student, Tafsia Shikdar, was accepted to MIT in 2017.
“When I heard about former NCS student Tafsia getting into MIT I just thought ‘why not me?’
“I hope it inspires more East End kids, who might think they’ll just never get into these places, to apply.
“This has only happened because I went to Newham Collegiate Sixth Form. We have very good sixth forms in Newham, but only one can say they have helped students into the very best universities in America.”
Earlier this year, the college arranged for a teacher who specialises in preparing students for America’s SAT exam to travel to London and tutor pupils. Mohammed passed the test with flying colours despite also having to study for his A-levels in maths, further maths, physics and chemistry.
He then travelled to the US for a tour of the country’s prestigious Ivy League universities, with a select group of students from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form.
Mouhssin Ismail, who left a top City law firm to take up the role of Newham Collegiate principal, said: “This is the next step in our evolution.
“Our students are now looking beyond the Russell Group universities, beyond Oxford and Cambridge, beyond the UK.
“To have the choice between the two best universities in the US is not only an incredible achievement for Mohammed, it is also a marker for every student at the NCS of what can be achieved.