Minnesotans should be bursting with pride over the news that two Twin Cities high school students have been admitted to all eight Ivy League schools. That rare feat is a tribute to their hard work and determination, as well as the efforts of their families and the teachers and administrators at their high schools. Sadly, some of those making comments online have suggested that the two students might have displaced more deserving white students. What garbage.
Munira Khalif of Mounds Park Academy in Maplewood and Alexander Roman of Harding High School on St. Paul’s East Side have been accepted by the Ivies and other top colleges and universities. They obviously are gifted students, but they share another quality that no doubt got the attention of admissions officials — both are heavily involved in community service.
At Harding, Roman, 17, is part of the Knight Crew, a student group that helps younger kids adjust to high school, and the Genius Squad, a tech help group. He’s also a youth leader at his church. Khalif, 18, is a state speech champion, a founder and leader of her school’s Social Consciousness Club, and founder of Lighting the Way, the nonprofit campaign she started to help educate East African youth.
Roman and Khalif also have this in common with the handful of students nationally who recently were accepted by all eight Ivies — all are children of immigrants. Khalif’s parents emigrated from Somalia, and Roman’s came from Mexico. They and their families are contemporary versions of what this “nation of immigrants’’ has been about since its founding. They embody the American dream.
It’s a shame that some online naysayers have chosen to denigrate rather than celebrate their accomplishments, arguing that immigrants or children of immigrants are not worthy of a spot in the nation’s best schools. How could they possibly know enough about the students or the schools to make that judgment?
Khalif and Roman are inspirational examples of young leaders and students who merit the admiration and applause of their fellow Minnesotans. We wish them all the best as they make their college choices and trust that they will find it relatively easy to dismiss their xenophobic critics.