The Massachusetts Institute of Technology declares its purpose: to create a better world through education, research and innovation. El Dorado valedictorian Kieran Obiozo should fit right in at the famous MIT located in Cambridge, Mass.
Obiozo, a starting midfielder on the Wildcats’ soccer team, is a finalist for the El Dorado News-Times Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year. He graduated with a 4.45 grade point average and plans to major in biochemistry. His goal is to become a doctor and enter the medical research field.
Getting into MIT might have 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 it and just showing my academic credentials,” said Obiozo, who compared MIT to the Ivy League – schools.
“I would say compared to the Ivy League, it’s about the same, just more research-based in approach because it’s a technology institute.”
Obiozo said he has wanted to be a doctor most of his life. His father is a doctor. However, he wasn’t sure which university he wanted to attend.
“Last year I didn’t really know where I wanted to go. I started looking around. Last year I decided I wanted to apply to MIT. The area, it is slightly larger than El Dorado. I thought it might be an interesting experience. I think the research foundation could allow me to go further towards my goal of being a bit 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 primary mother tongue of the Igbo people of 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 like I was brought up the Nigerian way,” he explained.
“I would argue that the cultural practices and some of the values that they instilled in me specifically like being proud of where I’m from. And some of the things that we do, some of the things that 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 watching what he did. When I was in eighth grade, I shadowed how he interacts with patients and the things he knows about medicine and how people’s bodies work. I have an ambition about learning it. His understanding of how people’s bodies work was really motivating, amazing to me.”
Obiozo, a National Merit finalist, said he has always loved science.
“It gives me an understanding of how the world works in a way that’s more than just what I can see. It’s something I can do experiments to prove and witness. I think it’s cool that inner workings and what drives the world to function as it does.”
Obiozo said his dream goal would be to work on finding cures for diseases. He mentioned diabetes as something he would like to tackle one day.
Athletically, football is the primary sport in Nigeria. It’s no coincidence, it’s also his best athletic activity.
“I played tennis for a very short time and I play basketball casually,” he said. “History I have with football and the history Nigeria has with football is what draws me to football. I think running, there’s a lot of running to it and not necessarily aimless running, but you run with a purpose.”
Younger brother Will, a sophomore, also played for the Wildcats and scored four goals this past season. Kieran, more of a defender, scored just one goal.
He laughed good-naturedly at being outmatched by his little brother.
“I provide the defensive structure for the team, especially in midfield. I try to cover the central area and force attackers out of the middle as well as move around a bit and organize the defense,” the two-year letterman explained.
“I’m better at defense in terms of how tall I am and how long my legs are. It allows me to play defense a little bit better.”
Ironically, despite a resume filled with academic honors, he said his proudest accomplishment was making the football team.
“It gave a lot of experiences. My high school experiences would not have been complete without it,” he said.
Somewhere near the top of Obiozo’s list of achievements could be earning the class achievement. Although, maybe not quite at the top.
“For me personally, it was not that important. Yes, it shows the academic work I have put in. As for valedictorian, the title itself was irrelevant,” he said.
“I would say I’m quite competitive. I push forward to achieve what I can. I’m more proud of the qualifications I had to have 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. When asked if there was anything he could do other than medicine, he said he might try to invent new medicine.
“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 switch to something else, to a different focus,” he said. “If I were to switch, it would be to another field of medicine rather than switching entirely from medicine.”