The Massachusetts Institute of Technology states its purpose: to make a better world through education, research and innovation. El Dorado valedictorian Kieran Obiozo should fit right in at the renowned MIT, located in Cambridge, Mass.
Obiozo, starting center midfielder on the Wildcats’ soccer team, is a finalist for El Dorado News-Times Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He graduated with a 4.45 grade point average and plans to study Biochemistry. His goal is to become a doctor and enter the field of medical research.
Getting into MIT might’ve been the hard part.
“A lot of the application process was basically me telling them about myself, what I aspire to do, what I’m doing right now to achieve that and just showing my academic merits,” said Obiozo, who compared MIT to Ivy League schools.
“I’d say, compared to Ivy League it’s about the same, just more research-based in the approach due to it being an institute of technology.”
Obiozo said he’s wanted to be a doctor most of his life. His father is a doctor. He wasn’t sure which university he would attend, however.
“Last year I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. I started looking around. Last year was when I decided I wanted to apply to MIT. The area, it’s kind of a bigger place than El Dorado. I thought it might be an interesting experience. I think the research base could allow me to go further toward my goal of being somewhat of a medical researcher.”
Born in Nigeria, Obiozo and his family moved to Grenada and then to the United States when he was about 3-years-old. The primary language in Nigeria is English and Obiozo said he also speaks Igbo, a principal native language of the Igbo people from Southern Nigeria.
He was raised by his parents, Albert and Nicole, to appreciate both cultures.
“I feel like I was born here, like, I understand the culture here. The way I was brought up makes me feel I was brought up in the Nigerian way,” he explained.
“I would argue that the cultural practices and some of the values they instilled in me, like specifically, having pride in where I’m from. And, some of the things we do, some of the things we eat.”
Academics were also stressed in the Obiozo household. His father was his inspiration to pursue a career in medicine.
“From a personal perspective, I liked seeing what he did. When I was in eighth grade, I job shadowed, like, how he interacts with patients and the things he knows about medicine and how people’s bodies work. I have an aspiration to learn that. The understanding he had about how people’s bodies work was really motivating, amazing to me.”
Obiozo, a National Merit finalist, said he’s always been enamored with science.
“It gives me an understanding of how the world works on a way that’s more than just what I can see. It’s something I can do experiments to prove and witness. I think that’s cool, the inner-workings and what drives the world to work the way it works.”
Obiozo said his dream goal would be working to discover cures for diseases. He listed diabetes as something he’d like to tackle some day.
Athletically, soccer is the primary sport of Nigeria. It’s not by coincidence it’s also his top athletic activity.
“I played tennis for a very short time and I play basketball casually,” he said. “History I have with soccer and the history Nigeria has with soccer is what draws me to soccer. I think the running, there’s a lot of running to it and not necessarily aimless running but you’re running for a purpose.”
Younger brother Will, a sophomore, also played for the Wildcats, scoring four goals this past season. Kieran, more of a defender, only scored one goal.
He laughed good naturedly about being outscored by his little brother.
“I provide the defensive structure to the team, especially in the midfield. I try and cover the central area and force attackers out of the center as well as somewhat move around and organize the defense,” explained the two-year letterman.
“I’m better at defense in the sense of how tall I am and how lengthy my legs are. It allows me to play defense a little bit better.”
Ironically, despite a résumé, filled with academic honors, he said his proudest accomplishment was making the soccer team.
“It brought a lot of experiences. My high school experiences wouldn’t have been complete without it,” he said.
Somewhere close to the top of Obiozo’s list of accomplishments could be earning class valedictorian. Although, maybe not at the very top.
“For me personally, it wasn’t that important. Yeah, it shows the academic work I put in. As far as valedictorian, the title itself didn’t matter,” he said.
“I’d say I’m pretty competitive. I stride to achieve what I can. I’m proud more of the qualifications I had to get to get it more than the title.”
Considering his serious aspirations, Obiozo laughs a lot. Part of his hair is dyed like French soccer star Paul Pogba and he insists he’s a good basketball player, no matter what anyone says.
And, he knows what he wants to do. When asked if there was anything he might do other than medicine, he said he might try to invent new medicines.
“MIT is flexible with the major. So if I get in there and decide I don’t necessarily like what I’m doing, I can always change to something else, to another focus,” he said. “If I switched, it would be to another field in medicine rather than switch from medicine entirely.”