She may be the youngest math genius in the United Kingdom. Until recently, Esther Okade played dress up, invented fantasy games, and is (still!) delightfully cheeky with her mother. But this 14-year-old is different from her peers.
Esther, from Walsall in England’s West Midlands region, studied for a Math A-level exam, a qualification usually reserved for 17- and 18-year-olds, and scored a B. After such an encouraging result, Esther’s mom helped her to enrol in an Open University course at the age of 10. The Open University is a U.K.-based distance learning college, and Esther fast became top of the class.
At the age 10 years, Nigeria-British Girl Esther Okade got admission to study Mathematics in UK Open University. pic.twitter.com/bdiojiuZCw
— NTA News (@NTANewsNow) March 12, 2015
Esther had grand ambitions, and she’s well on the way to fulfilling them. Not just for the sake of studying, either; Esther wants to open her own bank. “I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15,” the ambitious youngster clarified, “because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”
Esther’s talent runs in her family. Her mother, Omonefe Okade, is a mathematician. “Esther is doing so well,” she said, proudly. “By the time she was four … I saw that she loved patterns so developed a way of using that to teach her new things. I thought I would try her with algebra, and she loved it more than anything.”
“Applying to the university was an interesting process because of her age,” the math prodigy’s mom continued. “After they interviewed her they realized that this has been her idea from the beginning.” After a mandatory meeting with the vice-chancellor, Esther had to progress through a telephone interview, an essay, and a written math exam. She passed with flying colors.
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Originally, however, Esther’s mom was not so easily convinced. Esther had started begging her mom to consider university applications when she was just 7 years old, after achieving an A-grade in a Math GCSE examination. Mrs. Okade, however, thought her daughter was far too young. Esther continued begging for three years, one day exploding in frustration: “Mom, I think it is about time I started university now,” she said.
Esther’s mom described Esther as “flying” when she was accepted by the Open University. She still had reservations, however, and is keen to make sure that while her daughter follows her dream, she doesn’t compromise her childhood. “We want her to enjoy her childhood as well as her maths,” she said.
Esther’s younger brother Isiah is 10 years old. Not to be beaten, the second young math whizz in the family also took A-level Math. Both Esther and Isiah were homeschooled by Mrs. Okade, who taught them out of the living room of their three-bedroom abode.
Esther’s father, Paul, is incredibly proud. “The desire of every parent is to see their children exceed them and take the family name to great heights,” he shared. “My children have done just that.”
Esther’s parents’ reverence for education also extends beyond the boundaries of their own family: Paul and Omonefe Okade built a nursery and primary school in their home country of Nigeria’s Delta region, called Shakespeare’s Academy. “On one hand, billions of dollars worth of crude oil is pumped out from that region on a monthly basis,” Mrs. Okade said, “and yet the poverty rate of the indigenous community is astronomical.”
Esther is also giving something back to the community. The industrious 14-year-old has written a series of workbooks for children called “Yummy Yummy Algebra.” “As long as you can add or subtract,” Esther confirmed, “you’ll be able to do it. I want to show other children they are special.”
Esther is on track to receive her PhD in Financial Mathematics by the end of 2019.