Minnesota high school senior Munira Khalif didn't just get into her college of choice — she got into all eight Ivy League schools.
Oh, and add in Stanford University, Georgetown University and the University of Minnesota.
Khalif, who attends Mounds Park Academy and is the 18-year-old daughter of Somali immigrants, is way too modest to brag about attaining such a rare feat.
"I'm very excited, of course," she said Wednesday. "I think I'm still in that state of disbelief."
But others aren't as reticent to put the Ivy League sweep into perspective.
"It's pretty remarkable," said Randy Comfort, upper school director at Mounds Park, a private school in Maplewood. "I'm surprised because it's so unheard of to get so many options. But she's so capable, and so passionate about it that it doesn't surprise me. … She's an incredible communicator, so she has a presence that's special. She's pretty remarkable."
Comfort said the high school counsels students on where to apply. In Khalif's case, she wanted "options and opportunities."
"She now has them in a way that no one could have imagined," Comfort said.
Khalif, who hasn't yet decided where she'll go, said colleges began notifying her March 31. Acceptance letters then started to arrive "one after another," she said, until she had received a thumbs-up from each of the 11 schools where she applied. The Ivy League schools are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University.
"I promise you that I have had my fair share of moments of disappointments and failures like anyone else," she said. "It's a humbling experience."
Khalif , of Fridley, attributes her success to her community, school and a close family that values education.
"When I was growing up, my mom told me her own story of growing up in Somalia. My grandfather was a very revolutionary man in that he not only wanted to educate his sons, but also his daughters. My mom got that opportunity and passed that opportunity on to me. It put me in a position where I thought I had to give back."
Khalif, whose favorite subjects are the social sciences, particularly history, took as many rigorous high school courses as possible, spending most of her time in Advanced Placement and honors classes. School officials say she has a "stellar" academic record and a high ACT score.
"She works very hard, but she also has a fantastic sense of humor," Comfort said. "And to a fault, she's humble. She goes about her business and is a force."
Khalif is a state speech champion; one of nine recipients from around the world who received the U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education's Youth Courage Award; founder and leader of Mounds Park Academy's Social Consciousness Club, and founder of Lighting the Way, her own nonprofit campaign to make education accessible for East African youth, especially girls.
The campaign has raised thousands of dollars to build libraries, mitigate sanitation issues, and provide scholarships to make sure young people get in school and stay there, she said.
Despite her involvement in such heavy issues, Khalif said she's "like any other teenager. I hang out with my friends, go to the movies, the very typical teenage things that everyone my age is doing."