Early college program launches local student to Harvard

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 27, 2022

 Recent Oakland Early College graduate and West Bloomfield resident Adedoyin Adebayo has been accepted into Harvard University. She is pictured with her graduating class photo from the Oakland Early College program.

Recent Oakland Early College graduate and West Bloomfield resident Adedoyin Adebayo has been accepted into Harvard University. She is pictured with her graduating class photo from the Oakland Early College program.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WEST BLOOMFIELD — Over the course of the past seven months, West Bloomfield resident Adedoyin Adebayo has graduated from both high school and college and has been accepted into Harvard University.

All of those achievements started with a decision she made to enroll in Oakland Community College’s Oakland Early College program.

As an eighth grader, Adebayo researched different types of high schools before ultimately deciding that an early college model was the path that she wanted to take.

Early college blends high school and college into a multiyear program combining high school graduation with an OCC associate degree in grade 13.

Students work simultaneously toward their high school diploma and an OCC associate degree. Adebayo stated that the program was “completely free,” including the college classes. “I believe tuition is state funded. Students can borrow textbooks from the early college for free as long as they return them at the end of each semester. Also, students only pay for materials outside of tuition (e.g., art supplies for an art class). If a student fails or withdraws from a college class after a certain date, they must pay the school back before graduating.”

OCC hosts two early college experiences, as well as an early college program through Oakland Technical Schools.

Adebayo, who recently turned 19, entered the OEC program in 10th grade, after completing her ninth grade year at West Bloomfield High School. At that time, that was the earliest she could start, although the program now goes from grades 9-13, according to Adebayo.

She discussed the criteria for being accepted into the program.

“I had to submit an essay application where I wrote responses to, I think, three essays,” Adebayo said. “And then I had recommendations from two of my teachers from West Bloomfield High School. And then after I submitted the physical application, I was interviewed by our then-head of school … and some students, as well.”

Adebayo is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She was born in Michigan and moved to West Bloomfield when she was in second grade.

Adebayo earned two associate degrees — one in science and one in arts — and is a biology major on the pre-medical track.

She graduated from OCC in May and from the OEC in June.

In addition to normal high school graduation requirements, she shared what else was required to complete the program.

“We needed to do a 40-hour internship during our 13th grade year, and there’s also 60 hours of community service since the school is committed to serving the community,” Adebayo said.

Adebayo said she completed her internship at Oakland University’s medical school.

She was accepted into Harvard in December, and she intends to major in human developmental and regenerative biology, which she said is “human development in stem cells.”

Adebayo provided more details about OEC’s program.

“It’s a collaboration with Oakland Community College and the West Bloomfield School District, but it’s open to all residents of Oakland County, and different counties in Michigan have their own early, middle college programs, as well,” she said.

Adebayo said OEC is “its own high school.”

“We have our own building on the campus of OCC’s Orchard Ridge campus in Farmington Hills,” she said. “So when I first started, I took most of my classes at the high school from mornings to afternoon, and then in the evenings, I would take classes at the community college. As I advanced in grade level, I was able to take more classes at the college, (as) opposed to the high school, and I could take my college classes at any of OCC’s campuses.”

Carole Bennett, who is a communications and English faculty member at OEC, reflected on Adebayo’s time as a student.

“She is a true learner,” Bennett stated via a press release from Oakland Community College. “She listens, is fearless, intelligent and dedicated. … Her process helped her accomplish so much.”

Adebayo said she is “passionate” about education, which is a trait she said that she inherited from her parents.

“My father has a master’s degree; my mom has her doctorate degree, and she’s currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student at OU,” she said. “So my parents have always told my brother and I that education is one of the greatest tools we can have in life. … Through them, it became natural for me to love education.”

Adebayo’s mom, Bunmi, noticed her daughter’s interest in education “from a very young age.”

She said that what her daughter has accomplished has been extremely rewarding.

“Every day I wake up, and I say, ‘Thank You, Jesus.’ Because if not for the grace of God, I don’t think it would be possible,” Bunmi said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity given to her.”

Bunmi pointed out that it was her daughter who discovered the OEC program.

“She found OEC herself,” Bunmi said. “Eventually, she presented all this information about OEC to me that she found. She did all the legwork herself.”

Adebayo recalled that it was likely around ninth or 10th grade when Harvard became her “dream school,” and she acknowledged the role OEC played in helping turn that aspiration into a reality.

“I think it had a huge role because I had mentors in the form of other students and teachers who would encourage me to go towards any goal that I have,” she said. “Something that Harvard and other selective universities look for are students who are highly involved in their community, highly involved in their school and really strive for academic excellence. (At) Oakland Early College, every student is encouraged to do that. I always saw upperclassmen who were achieving great things, and that inspired me even more to break out of my shell and become more involved.”

The West Bloomfield School District is among the school districts in Michigan that provides the option for students to enroll in an early college program.

Adebayo believes that “every place in the country” should allow it.

“The early college experience taught me to shoot for the sky and work hard and, I think most importantly, to surround myself with a community of people who also have big aspirations and the ambition to actually accomplish their goals,” she said.

Despite the challenges that have been a part of her journey, Adebayo said, “If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I would tell her, ‘Thank you for making this decision.’”

“The classes were definitely rigorous. However, graduating was not unachievable, because we had a lot of support from staff at the high school and staff at the college,” she said. “We had two counselors — one at the high school, one at the college. … All of the support that we had made it possible for us to graduate.”

Adebayo shared some thoughts for those who are on the fence about whether or not to apply for an early college program.

“I would say, don’t be afraid of what you can achieve in life, because sometimes when we’re taking a risk or we’re pursuing a challenge, there can come the fear of failure and embarrassment,” she said. “But sometimes you need to fail a couple of times before you can succeed enough times to achieve your goal. … If you’re considering whether to apply to the early college, just apply. The worst thing that can happen is you get a no, and you reapply.”

The fall semester is when Adebayo is set to begin her journey at Harvard.

And from there, her goals only get bigger.

“After undergrad, I would like to enroll in an MD-Ph.D. program. So afterwards, I will be a medical doctor and a scientist — so, a physician-scientist,” Adebayo said. “I want to split my time between clinical work, as well as research that will help with either global health or biotech.”