WEST BLOOMFIELD — Over the past seven months, West Bloomfield resident Adedoyin Adebayo has graduated from both high school and college and has been admitted to Harvard University.
All of this success began with her decision to enroll in Oakland Community College’s Oakland Early College program.
As an eighth grader, Adebayo researched different types of high schools before finally deciding that an early college model was the path she wanted to take.
Early College combines high school and college into a multi-year program that combines a high school degree with an OCC associate degree in grade 13.
Students work on their high school diploma and an OCC associate degree simultaneously. Adebayo explained that the program is “completely free,” including college classes. “I believe that the tuition fees are funded by the state. Students can borrow Early College textbooks free of charge provided they return them at the end of each semester. Also, students only pay for materials outside of class (e.g. art supplies for an art class). If a student fails or drops out of a college class after a certain date, they must pay back school before graduation.”
OCC hosts two early college experiences as well as an early college program through Oakland Technical Schools.
Adebayo, who recently turned 19, joined the OEC program in grade 10 after completing her ninth year at West Bloomfield High School. At that time, the earliest she could start, although the program now runs from grades 9 to 13, according to Adebayo.
She discussed the criteria for admission to the program.
“I had to submit an essay application in which I wrote responses to, I think, three essays,” Adebayo said. “And then I got recommendations from two of my teachers at West Bloomfield High School. And then, after I submitted the physical application, I was interviewed by our then-Principal…and also by some of the students.”
Adebayo is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She was born in Michigan and moved to West Bloomfield when she was in second grade.
Adebayo holds two associate degrees – one in science and one in art – and is a pre-med in biology.
She completed the OCC in May and the OEC in June.
In addition to the normal high school graduation requirements, she shared what else was required to complete the program.
“We had to do a 40-hour internship in our 13th grade year, and there’s also 60 hours of community service because the school is committed to serving the community,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo said she did her internship at Oakland University Medical School.
She was accepted into Harvard in December and intends to focus on human developmental and regenerative biology, which she says is “human development in stem cells.”
Adebayo provided more details on the OEC program.
“It’s a collaboration with Oakland Community College and the West Bloomfield School District, but it’s open to all Oakland County residents, and different Michigan counties also have their own early and middle college programs,” she said.
Adebayo said OEC is “his own high school.”
“We have our own building on the campus of OCC’s Orchard Ridge campus in Farmington Hills,” she said. “When I started, I attended most of my classes in high school from morning to afternoon, and then I attended classes at the community college in the evenings. As I progressed in grades, I was able to take more classes in college than I could in high school, and I was able to take my college classes at any of the OCC campuses.”
Carole Bennett, Faculty Member for Communications and English at the OEC, reflected on Adebayo’s time as a student.
“She’s a real learner,” Bennett said in a press release from Oakland Community College. “She listens, is fearless, intelligent and dedicated. … Her process has helped her achieve so much.”
Adebayo said she is “passionate” about education, a trait she inherited from her parents.
“My father has a master’s degree; My mother has her PhD and is currently a Ph.D. Student at OU,” she said. “So my parents always told my brother and I that education is one of the greatest tools we can have in life. … She made it natural for me to love education.”
Adebayo’s mother, Bunmi, noted her daughter’s interest in education “from an early age.”
She said what her daughter has achieved has been extremely rewarding.
“Every day I wake up and say, ‘Thank you, Jesus.’ Because without the grace of God, I don’t think it would be possible,” Bunmi said. “I am grateful for the opportunity she has been given.”
Bunmi pointed out that it was her daughter who discovered the OEC program.
“She found OEC herself,” Bunmi said. “Eventually she presented me with all this information about OEC that she found. She did all the footwork herself.”
Adebayo recalled that Harvard probably became her “dream school” in the ninth or tenth grade, and she acknowledged the role OEC played in making that claim a reality.
“I think it played a big role because I had mentors in the form of other students and teachers who encouraged me to achieve whatever goal I had,” she said. “Something Harvard and other select universities are looking for are students who are deeply involved in their community and their school and genuinely strive for academic excellence. (At) Oakland Early College every student is encouraged to do so. I’ve always seen seniors achieve great things, and that inspired me even more to break out of my shell and get more involved.”
The West Bloomfield School District is among the Michigan school districts that offer students the opportunity to enroll in an early college program.
Adebayo believes that “every place in the country” should allow it.
“The early college experience taught me to shoot for the sky and work hard and surround myself with a community of people who also have big ambitions and ambition to actually achieve their goals,” she said.
Despite the challenges that have been part of her journey, Adebayo said, “If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would say to her, ‘Thank you for making that decision.'”
“The classes were definitely tough. However, the degree wasn’t unattainable as we had a lot of support from the high school and college staff,” she said. “We had two counselors – one in high school, one in college. … All the support we had made it possible for us to close.”
Adebayo shared some thoughts for those who are unsure whether or not to apply to an early college program.
“I would say don’t be afraid of what you can achieve in life because sometimes when we take a risk or face a challenge, the fear of failure and the embarrassment can surface,” she said. “But sometimes you have to fail a few times before you succeed enough to reach your goal. … If you are considering applying to Early College, just apply. The worst that can happen is you get a no and reapply.”
Adebayo will begin her journey at Harvard in the fall semester.
And from there, their goals only get bigger.
“After graduating, I would like to apply for an MD-Ph.D. Program. After that, I’ll be a doctor and a scientist — that is, a doctor-scientist,” Adebayo said. “I want to split my time between clinical work and research that benefits either global health or biotechnology.”