Saheela Ibraheem, 15, Headed To Harvard With Aspirations Of Becoming Scientist

Edison, N.J. Resident Also Accepted At Princeton, Columbia, MIT

EDISON, N.J. (CBS 2) — Many parents dream of their children going to Harvard one day. But one local resident has actualized the goal of getting into the prestigious university — at 15 years old!

Saheela Ibraheem, of Edison, was also accepted to MIT and 13 other schools, including Princeton and Columbia before settling on Harvard after falling in love with the campus.

Ibraheem skipped two grades and said the key to success is figuring out what you love to learn as early as possible — something she did at age 5.

“If you are passionate about what you do, and I am passionate about most of these things, especially with math and science, it will work out well,” Ibraheem told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.

Her mother, Shakirat Ibraheem, said Saheela has been way ahead of the academic game since kindergarten — never cutting corners and trying to do everything on her own.

“She’s like always independent,” the teen’s mother said. “I never get to help with her homework because she’d say ‘it’s my work mommy, not yours.'”

The Harvard-bound teen speaks Arabic, Spanish and Latin. She said she hopes to become a research scientist and study the brain.

Ibraheem’s teachers at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School said their student was an old soul.

“I believe that she’s 15 years old, because I’m told that. But other than that I have a hard time,” Jim O’Halloran said.

In addition to academics, Ibraheem plays the trombone, softball and soccer. Despite her activities, Ibraheem said her number one priority was her family. Her 7-year-old brother Saleem was her biggest cheerleader when it came to picking a college.

“I was really psyched because she got into a great school and I wanted to go to Harvard, too,” her brother said.

As far as Ibraheem’s advice for her fellow aspiring students?

“Kids should try to listen to their parents most of the time. They know what they’re doing,” she said.

Please offer your thoughts on this amazing teenager in the comments section below.

More from Cindy Hsu
  • Mike J.

    Congratulations on your acceptance to all those schools — at such a young age! I hope that you use your God given intelligence and your education to help make the world a better place! Good Luck!

  • Shæ

    Young women like Saheela make me hope that the future of the world is not entirely lost. However, many of the usage of TXT phrasing, and many spelling and punctuation errors in the comments attached to this article make me despair for the future of written language.

    • Hasan

      don’t be such a pedant(if you know what that means) and kill joy shae.this is no english class.the important thing is that you get the message.

  • Fellow Muslim

    What an inspiring story. Just goes to show you how us teens are the future of this world. I wish you the best in your studies Saheela, and may Allah be with you. – Fellow Muslim age 13

    • Belkeis

      Nice comment, young man. May Allah also be with you and give you as much success as our young sister.

  • eniola

    Honestly when I came across this on the net I was astoned. At first I tot it was a lie n den I said to my self any thin is possible when it involves hard work. U have served as an inspiration 2 me n may God almighty keep u on top always n pls stay at d TOP!!!!!!!!!!

  • cynthia

    tola…….not productive at all. I’m of irish descent, if I was the subject should they have mentioned that my heritage of drinking didn’t interfere????

  • Marcella Maynard Thomason

    I don’t see what her Nigerian decent has to do with anything good or bad about herabilities. They also don’t mention her religion…, also has nothing to do with the accomplishments. Wouldn’t be Great if the whole world looked at the actions of one and not the rest? I am only interested in where this gifted beautiful young lady is going to, not where she came from ( and even less so in where anyone else in her family came from) So this article isn’t good enough for you? You can’t just appreciate the wonderful acknowledgment of her hard work? Seems to me you used the opportunity to take a positive peice and add negativity.

    • Donovan

      It’s because her culture came, to a large extent, from her parents. There is something black american culture is lacking, and learning from immigrants can be helpful.

  • Stephanie

    What difference does it make? Knowing her ethnicity is not necessary to admire her success and dedication.

  • Jamilu

    Great achievement. Iam thrilled. Keep it up

    • Cynthia

      Two thumbs up!

  • markus

    Thank God we have kids like this… the future and hope of our country.

  • smith abayomi

    u are born great. ur mind is your limit.

  • Paul Chapman

    Congratulations, I love it when I see young people excited about learning. I wish her the best of luck and happiness.

  • Alex

    Keep it up saheela: let this keep u going that this world is full of opportunities,and what u have is a great privilege,ensure u use this for the betterment of mankind even now that it has been made public you have much expectations resting on your shoulders….it’s a privilege and remember where u are coming 4rm and where u r going to…don’t let this get to your head,find something to challenge you always as i wish u all the best.

  • hda

    That’s great, may God be with you.

  • amusa ishau cephas

    nice one.may the good lord help u.

  • Solomon Udoffah

    At least hope is not lost—-we still have wonder kids we can look up 2 in d future 4 a formidable generation.I wish her well in her education/academics—–she will neva get weary but wax even stronger.Congratulations 2 d family and Nigeria!!!


    Glad to hear that a Nigerian is excelling.I pray that more of the younger generation will follow your footsteps.God be with you at Harvard,

    • james macpherson

      is she a nigerian?

    • cynthia

      I believe she is of Nigerian descent, but is a US citizen. Again, my family came from Ireland, is it necessary to make inane comments about everyone’s origin? Just be happy for HER, that is the message. sheesh

  • Temitope

    Am impress and excited when I see a purposefully and determined student in the right course of life. I hope someday we will meet to share our ideas and make the world a much more better place. Love ur ego.

  • icey

    wish u al d best n hope u alwyz stay at d top of ur game. :-)

  • valerie

    Atta girl!so proud of you that age and as a nigerian.I have a daughter and I hope she turnsout to be like you.harvard was the best choice and I wish you the best.

  • Busola

    Kp u doin well,enjoy ur stay in harvard

  • Nneka

    Dat was nice,i wish u more strenght

  • chika

    It’s a joonzin word

  • abdulwasi

    U such an inspiration shaleela.
    I just wish u the best in everything.

  • tinu

    Wish u luck all the as u step into Havard, m proud of u as a lady, a black n also as a nigerian.

    • Nisa

      and also a daughter, a sister and a Muslim lady.

  • tinu

    Wish u luck all the as u step into Havard, m proud of u as a lady, a black n also a nigerian.

  • abagun zainab

    this is unbeliveable,well saheela i wish you the best of the best of goodlucks,dont work yourself too hard.just take it nice and slow.may almaighty Allah bless you.

  • Kenny

    There are alot of us like HER in Nigeria. We need help. Let these foreign schools come over and test us. We dont make noise ‘cus empty barrels make the loudest noise. Our problem is just that most of us(d youths) living in Nigeria dont ‘ve this opportunity.
    All d same i say congratulations to her nd am happy for her…lol

    • Tolu

      Yeah Kenny and Saheela – Big UP NIGERIA…you folks ain’t seen nothing yet!!

  • Patty Bray-Plumley

    Congratulations Saheela! May you some day discover many cures for brain disorders of all kinds. God Bless your studies!

  • DARE Osamo

    Saheela,please fly NAIJA flag high when you get to Harvard. Congrats!

    • Tolu

      Yeah Dare and Saheela – Big UP NIGERIA…you folks ain’t seen nothing yet!!

  • john

    WOW God be with you and yours. J

  • Loveall

    Look, “well shall over run,” no one asked for racist and ignorant replies. If you can please go back to grade school, then middle then high school, hopefully this time around, you will learn to be an American that truely values freedom and liberties for all right along with hopefully, they will help you to be educated so your remarks, are spelled correctly at least. Next, find a way to do something positive for others, others, not who you think is best, so you can pick up some humanity. Thank you, that is all.

  • DkIje

    This kid keeps me hopeful for our future. Congratulations Saheela! Don’t overwork or overstress yourself at Harvard this fall.

  • A proud expectant mother

    Saheela, way to go girl, Masha’Allah! I am pregnant with a baby girl and I do surely hope that like you, she will grow up to be an independent, beauttiful and intelligent muslima.
    To everyone talking race:
    do know that God created one race only: the HUMAN race.
    Let’s have faith in the himan race and let’s celebrate everyone like Saheela who makes us so proud.

    Peace and Love

  • Dr. Denise Hinds-Zaami, A Sister

    Congratulations Saheela!!! We’ve all been waiting for you. Yes, be passionate about what you study and do in life. And do it well, as I know you can. And don’t get hung up by the expectations of others. If you need to change your focus, that’s O.K. Just love what you do and do it with love.


    great job. a great kid.

  • orgulloso

    Masha’Allah, Saheela! This is wonderful news I wish you nothing but success. I know we will see you discovering a cure for some of our worst brain maladies. I am proud of you and your mother for raising a God fearing, intelligent, beautiful young woman. Enjoy college for all it has to offer! PS: Harvard was the best choice :0

  • A Sister

    Hi Anna,
    In Jordan, where I live, the women play sports. I even have a sister-in-law who majored in sports at the university and is a sports instructor. This is common throughout the Middle East. If Saheela is educated enough to speak Arabic and attend Harvard University, I am sure she has read the Qur’an.

  • A Sister

    Actually, Cygon, you are misinformed on this point. I am a Muslim woman living in Jordan and have a 14-year-old daughter who is at the top of her class. The universities in Jordan are comprised of more than 50 percent female students, and I fully expect that my daughter will, God willing, graduate with the best of them, just like her aunts and many other women we know. I just got back from visiting my female doctor today, who was late for our appointment because she was in the middle of performing surgery. She is a brilliant and very competent woman who received all of her education in the Middle East.

  • veena

    I just read this to my 8 year old daughter to inspire her! Way to go, Saheela!

  • faye hodge

    She is truly an inspiration to all young people, a job well done. Mon has done an excellent.

    • faye hodge

      She is truly an inspiration to all young people, a job well done. Mom has done an excellent job raising her daughter. Just continue to reach for the stars.

  • Gholamhosain Tasbihi

    Albeit Harvard is a great university and their trainers there with the parents of this young student know how to behave and educate such a young person in their environments. Educating like her is extremely difficult for both the university and the parents..

  • A Sister

    Masha’Allah, Saheela. I am proud of you. Keep up the good work.

  • barbara

    Truly an inspiration to young people all over the world.
    All the best in your studies.

  • Exequiel Lampa



    You are truly a great inspiration to kids all over the world.

    I hope to see you go places someday like a Nobel Prize winner, an author of science, math, or medical book.

    I wish you continuing success.


    • Norah M.

      Beautiful comment. I agree.

  • Anonymous

    Way to go. We need more young people like her. Good luck Saheela.

  • Maureen

    Congrats Saheela! Follow your dreams. Thankfully we have American teens like you who are passionate about helping others with their intellectual gifts.

  • andy

    the world need more young people like shaheela Ibraheem…..beside being bright and educated, she has high moral and very dicipline….a key to success in the world thus, the hereafter.
    while rotten kids would bring the world down in future.

  • Bok

    chris look up extremeintellect. There is a whole list of those kids.

  • chris

    That is simply amazing. I was born and raised in the DFW area of texas, Plano to be exact, I have mever heard of a student being allowed to skip grades. Now what we were able to do was our placement test for college, if we excelled in math/reading/writing, our scores per each subject would allow us to start in a higher level course compared to the basic point/prerequisite.

    • rmsbl4

      Well look where you live. Need to keep them longer for high school football.

  • Val

    Wow, congrats Saheela!! This is a truly inspiring story… hope you’re successful and have a great, fulfilling time at Harvard! :)

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