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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Five years after moving to the US, 18-year-old African boy wins $5.3million scholarships to 120 US universities

Five years after he migrated to the United States, an 18-year-old African boy named Helms Atekega achieved an exceptional feat as he won a scholarship worth 5.3 million dollars to 120 universities and colleges nationwide.

Helms, a Ugandan moved to the United States in 2019 to join his father. His Father, Chris Atekega immigrated to the United States from Uganda in the late 2000s to attend the University of California, Berkeley.

Soon after Helms arrived in the United States, the coronavirus pandemic started. He attended his high school via Zoom and missed out on a big part of interacting with others and learning the American culture.

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Because he was not familiar with the American culture, he was not sure his college applications would resonate or meet a lot of the requirements. Helms completed his high school education 


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He mentioned that he wanted to be a pop star according to CNN but when he told his dad he planned to pursue a music degree after his graduation his father did not really support him. This pushed Helms to start applying and he applied to the

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“I gave it my all with the application process. I reached out to the schools to make sure that they received my application and made sure I gave my essays my best shot. But I did not expect so many schools to say yes, so I was not prepared,” he said.

Helms earned acceptance from 120 colleges and universities along with 5.3 million dollars in proposed grants and scholarship offers. Chris said he was proud of his son’s achievement and had hoped his son would pick a career with financial stability.



He said he hoped his son would study medicine or computer technology. Or maybe he might follow in his own footsteps as a mechanical engineering graduate from the University of California, Berkeley.

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But as he watched Helm receive his acceptance letter, he began to lose hope in his son’s changing career. “He’s so confident that music is what he wants to do, it would be a disservice for me to try to guide him otherwise that’s why he applied to a gazillion colleges to prove a point,” Chris said.

“I told him, ‘You want to be a musician? It takes a lot of hard work.’ And his reaction was, I’ll use my determination to do this to show you how hard I can work,” he added.

Helms emphasized that the primary factor driving his college application process was the school to have a strong music program. He said he mostly used universities’ online portals for his applications which made it easier to copy and paste his information to multiple places.

He mentioned that his father paid the application fee required by some universities and he spent many hours writing essays for different schools, although most were variations of the same personal story.

In his essays, he highlighted his passion for music and his background as an immigrant though some schools rejected him. Helms was accepted into universities like Bard College, Drexel University, Howard University, Loyola University, Marymount, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of California Berkeley.

Helms stated that he plans to major in music and minor in global studies at the University of California Berkley just like his father adding that he was not influenced by his father. He said he is looking forward to taking the next step toward being a professional musician.


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