Tolu Adeniji did not know how to play any sports when she entered AF Amistad High School, but that did not stop her. That perseverance is paying off and the student-athlete has several college acceptances to choose from, including several Ivy League opportunities.
Adeniji’s first sport at Amistad High School was soccer. Then she added lacrosse and her list of activities got longer as she saw sports keep her schedule structured.
“I joined all of my other clubs and then I got a job because I was like, why not? I feel like I can handle this,” Adeniji, who is now a senior, said.
It’s that attitude has also led to a long list of college acceptances for Adeniji.
“I got into Yale early action and then I also got into Harvard, Brown, UPenn and Washington University in St. Louis,” Adeniji said.
She's the latest standout success in a long line of triumphs for Amistad, a school U.S. News & World Report has ranked the best in Connecticut for a second straight year.
The New Haven school serves primarily inner-city black and Latino students.
“The whole purpose of our school is to look at our kids and our parents and say ‘College is for you,’” school principal, Morgan Barth, said. “You can get there. You will get there. You're going to get there. It's going to take a lot of hard work but you absolutely can do it."
Adeniji has been used to hard work from a young age.
“I was the first of my family to be born in the United States,” said Adeniji, whose parents emigrated from Nigeria in 1999. “A large part of my childhood was seeing them study all the time. Yeah, my parents were always in the library or at home in their rooms studying."
So Adeniji brought her work ethic from home and found her purpose at Amistad.
“There are a lot of stereotypes and statistics for black women in America and women in America and black people in America,” Adeniji said. “So I work every day to actively fight against them. … There are people out there who do not have the opportunities that I do, that look like me and I want to make sure that I take advantage of whatever I can."