ingsley Enechukwu has had many motivators in his life. Witnessing his parents’ sacrifices when his family emigrated from Nigeria in 2002 was one of his biggest.
“If they were able to leave everything they know to come to a different country to have their kids succeed, then there is no way that I cannot achieve my goals,” Enechukwu says.
When he enrolled at Romulus High School, Enechukwu hit the ground running. He was a linebacker for the football team, competed in wrestling and ran track, all while maintaining a position in his National Honor Society chapter.
“After practices, I just relax for like 10 minutes to clear my mind before I start my homework,” Kingsley says. “Depending on my workload, it takes one to four hours. I usually go to sleep at midnight.”
Enechukwu’s father passed away his sophomore year. Though it was difficult to face at a young age, it would become another motivator.
“For a while I kind of just stayed to myself, just to have my alone time so I could just slowly mourn,” Enechukwu says. “I know he wouldn’t want me to just stay stagnant just because he’s gone. He always wanted me and my other siblings to be the best we can, regardless of any situations that we come across.”
Family aside, Enechukwu credits his football coach, Thomas Patterson, as his biggest supporter.
“He’s always told me to be the best person I can be,” Enechukwu says. “At the end of the day I’m not living my life for anyone else. I’m living my life for me.”
After seeing his mom grapple with paying tuition for his brother and sister, he set his eye on a scholarship that would cover his college costs completely, and lift that burden.
After a rigorous application process, Enechukwu was selected as one of the Gates Millennium Scholars, a program funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that provides full scholarships to standout minority students across the country.
“I became a student of that scholarship. I researched, I read articles, I found out as much information about it first,” Enechukwu says. “I put my whole life into those eight essays. I talked about my past, things I struggled with, my future goals, how my extracurricular activities have shaped me into who I am today.”
Enechukwu vividly remembers the day he found out he was selected. The second he saw the sizeable envelope in his mailbox, he says his heart dropped.
“I just started bawling tears,” Enechukwu says. “I did all for my mom. So now that I made my dream come true for her, it was just overwhelming for me.”
Graduating near the top of his class with a 3.95 GPA, Enechukwu will attend the University of Michigan-the alma mater of his two older siblings-where he plans to study finance and be a member of the African Students Association. Upon graduation from the Ross School of Business, Enechukwu hopes to use his degree to become an investment banker or financial manager.
“You just have to have the mentality that whatever you want in life, you just have to go get it. That’s just how the world works. If you want it, go get it.”