BLOOMFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — College acceptance letters from across the nation are being sent out this week, and one local student has a big choice in front of him after receiving letters from seven Ivy League schools.

“When I opened the Yale admission, it came with a video that said, ‘We are Yale! Bulldogs, bulldogs, bulldogs.’ I was so excited,” David Odekunle told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.

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David was just getting started. He opened the rest of his emails. One Ivy League school after another said yes.

“Honestly, I was very shook,” he said.

His journey to eventual Ivy Leaguer started far from his high school in Bloomfield.

“Growing up in Nigeria, I had so much more adversity and challenges, so being able to use that, to not let it deter me from achieving what I wanted to achieve has played such a huge role in my life,” David said.

Because applications increased dramatically, this year’s Ivy League acceptance rate dropped from 10% to around 6%. David was accepted by seven of them.

“It just kept feeling better and better … It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime feeling,” he said.

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But it wasn’t even the first time it happened in his household. Two years ago, his older brother, Emmanuel, earned the same honor.

“You have two sons that were accepted to multiple Ivy League schools. What’s your secret as a parent?” Overmyer asked David’s mother, Dr. Florence Odekunle.

“I’m so proud of that. My secret is to encourage them to be hard-working. I always tell them, ‘Hard working doesn’t kill people.’ When you are hard-working, you will reap the benefits later in life,” she said.

She should know. She and her husband moved their family to our area seven years ago, and then both became doctors.

What it’s taught David is that stepping outside our comfort zone is how we grow.

“It’s daunting being surrounded by people who are so different from you, but once you’re able to learn about them and what makes them special, it’s adding value to your own life,” David said.

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David suggests students should put more focus on the essays in their applications and make them personal so the committee can see you as a person, not just a collection of grades.

Steve Overmyer