Victor Agbafe was admitted to all 14 colleges he applied to in 2015 — including all eight Ivy League universities. After Agbafe spent a week touring some of the most exclusive universities in the world — Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, he decided to head from Wilmington, North Carolina, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, as a member of Harvard’s Class of 2019.
Agbafe was particularly drawn in by a presentation Harvard President Drew Faust and Harvard Dean of Admissions William Fitzsimmons gave to the admitted students. The administrators, he said, seemed very genuine about the potential Class of 2019 members making their own decision on where to attend reports Business Insider.
“They didn’t try to push, push, sell, sell,” Agbafe said. “They really told us more about the opportunities they had to offer. It wasn’t about them trying to sell us on a brand.”
Agbafe said this was different from the presentation he saw at other universities, such as Stanford.
“I just remember that they would compare it — ‘We have this and that school in Cambridge can’t offer you that,'” he said.
While this wasn’t the main reason that Agbafe made his decision, he said it was a factor in choosing Harvard.
Agbafe graciously shared his Common Application essay with Business Insider, which we’ve reprinted in full below:
Why I Refuse to be Silent
“Wow I thought black people are supposed to be scary.” This honest and uncensored statement that a little girl recanted as I recited my biographical speech on Florence Nightingale clothed in the white sheets that represented Ms. Nightingale’s pure heart tore down my dignity and self-esteem to shreds like a machete chopping off the foundation of a plant. Nevertheless, these words instilled a spark in me to relentlessly stand up for others that are unjustly judged.
Many years later, I was prompted to act when my friend grumbled about how the Day of Silence for LGBTQ individuals that I and some members of the diversity club initiated was garbage. At first I ignored him, but then as I overheard him tell his likeminded friend that he would “never have a college roommate who was gay,” that very spark in me was lit and I felt morally obligated to challenge this prejudiced line of thinking.
I began to ask him if he would really refuse to have a roommate who was gay. As our conversation escalated, his face turned red, my heart beat faster, and our voices grew louder. My friend felt that one couldn’t be a devout Catholic like myself and yet support gay marriage. I countered by attacking his Biblical argument that gay marriage is a moral abomination with my belief that Christianity should be about love and acceptance of others. After a drawn-out argument in which I constantly refuted my friends points, I remembered that inner beat-down I had suffered many years ago that had really triggered my confrontational stance. This was about a whole lot more than a logical or ethical argument, this was about an attack on my human rights.
I don’t know what it feels like to be gay, bisexual, or transgender, but I do know what it is like to have a facade of inferiority hang over me because I look “scary.” I know how worthless it is to pat the victim on the back or assure him in times of privacy that “it doesn’t matter what she thinks.” This applies even in the most intimate of settings as I find my friend is not the only one I must confront on such issues but also my own personal heroes. “But granny regardless of what the bible says isn’t the struggle for gay rights just like the struggle for racial equality?” I know that it may seem wrong to challenge those that have unconditionally loved and taken care of you, but I must do so in order to ensure that others can feel this same love from all people.
I speak up because when one sees an injustice and just shrugs one’s shoulder it is just like promoting it. We live in a society of interdependence in which we must be allies for each other in all social spheres for the continual progress of society as a whole. If one analyzes any prolonged societal injustice against any social group in history, one will see that a critical component in its persistence was the silent approval of the unaffected. I will admit that it can be very confusing at times to stand up for others, especially when it involves challenging ideal systems I’ve always considered absolute or people I look up to. But in order to reap the vast benefits of the great diversity around us we must take to heart the sorrows of our fellow human-being and make them our own.
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