Dagenham teenager secures £250k scholarship to study at top US university

Umar Azad, front left and Catherine Lowe, right, have been awarded scholarships to top US universiti

Umar Azad, front left and Catherine Lowe, right, have been awarded scholarships to top US universities along with fellow NCS pupils Lennox Keeble and, Xuan Nguyen. Picture: Joe Newman - Credit: Joe Newman

A Dagenham teenager has secured a £250,000 scholarship to study at a top American university.

Lennox Keeble is among four pupils from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form (NCS) in East Ham to be heading to Ivy League universities this autumn on fully-funded scholarships worth around £250,000 each over a four year period.

The sixth form runs a US university preparation programme which includes a paid tour of the Ivy League universities, mentoring advice and guidance for those looking to study overseas.

The group were supported to study for the SATs - aptitude tests required by the American educational system - at the same time as preparing for their A-level exams before they were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lennox, who received offers to study at MIT and Princeton before opting for the latter, said: “Einstein taught in room 302 Frist Campus Center at Princeton, that’s what inspired me to want to study there when I had the opportunity to visit.

“I want to experience all of what a US university has to offer.

“The trip to America with the NCS gave me the chance to make an informed decision. Princeton feels right for me.”

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The aspiring physicist, who is the youngest of five siblings, added: “The streets of Dagenham and the hallowed halls of Princeton are very different places but I do not see it as a big deal. I will adjust, make friends. I am looking forward to it massively.”

He hailed his mum Itafu, who fled Sierra Leone during the country’s civil war and looked after elderly people in care homes during the pandemic, as his hero.

The headteacher of NCS, Mouhssin Ismail, praised Lennox and his fellow scholarship winners - Catherine Lowe, Xuan Nguyen and Umar Azad.

He said: “To have students from some of the most disadvantaged boroughs in London win full scholarships to Harvard, Princeton and MIT is testament to the hard work of the students and their teachers. To know their lives will be enriched and changed forever is a great feeling.

“NCS was set up to push the boundaries of what is possible and we tell our students every day that they can study at the most prestigious universities.”