Refugee gets full scholarship to Harvard University

She plans to major in chemistry and hopes to become an anesthesiologist

(Credit: CNN)

(CNN) – She is one of the country’s best and brightest students, but for Esther Elonga, the road to Harvard has not been easy. It started when her family had to flee their native Congo.

Esther said, “Because of the wars and insecurity, my family had to move from the Congo to Uganda. So we lived in Uganda as refugees.”

Esther, her parents, and two sisters, were resettled in New Hampshire two years ago. She is now an 18-year-old senior at Concord High School, which is not an easy feat, considering English isn’t even Esther’s first language.

Esther explained, “Swahili is my first language. And I also speak Lingala which is also my other first language.”

It didn’t take long for people at Concord High to notice that Esther was no ordinary student.

Concord High Social Worker Anna-Marie Dipasquale said, “Her insights are just so incredible. She’s well-read. So in addition to her AP courses and every advanced course, she reads a lot of books. She’s always reading. She’s always studying, so she’ll have so much to offer when she goes in the classroom.”

Esther has made strides outside the classroom as well.

She noted, “I joined the cross country club and the girls are so supportive and so friendly. Everything here at Concord High School helped me get to where I am.”

Esther plans to major in chemistry, and hopes to eventually become an anesthesiologist. And while the future is bright, memories of the past are still fresh.

Esther said, “Most of the children that I left in Africa, most of them who are my friends, were people who were as bright as anyone or who are as smart, but could never have the opportunity of going to school.”