Faith Iloka grew up in a single-parent, low-income home in Trenton, New Jersey. Despite her circumstances, she never let it determine her fate. Iloka, who immigrated to the states from Nigeria at 7 years old was recently awarded a full ride to attend Princeton University this fall.
As class valedictorian at Trenton Central High School, Iloka graduated with a staggering 4.273 GPA. And although it wasn’t easy, she promised her mom one thing.
“The one thing I promised my mom was that I would end up at a university and she wouldn’t have to pay any money,” said Iloka in an interview with The Trentonian.
During her junior year, Iloka applied to 11 schools, including Princeton, Brown and University of Pennsylvania, all schools she described as “least likely” to accept her. But one day she got the courage to check online, where she would discover that she was accepted into Princeton.
“Seeing that acceptance, it was like, ‘Definitely, I am going here.’ At the end of the day, I do like the school. I do like what they have to offer me.”
This fall, she plans to major in psychology with a minor in theater.
Defeating the Belief Gap
But that didn’t stop Iloka from having naysayers. Outsiders told her she wouldn’t “become anything” because of her situation of growing up in a single-family household.
Often, people succumb to a belief gap—the gap between what people believe low-income students or students of color can achieve, and what is actually possible. For kids like Iloka, poverty is not destiny.
Fortunately, she always had the support of her family. “Despite everything that we went through, they still encouraged me and they were always there to push me to keep going further.”
Iloka offers this advice to current Trenton students: “Always challenge yourself and never let others’ perception of who you are, make you who you are,” she said. “Never let your circumstance define you. Always make it a point to challenge yourself and live life based on what you believe you can achieve.”
Congratulations to Faith Iloka on receiving a full ride to Princeton University.