Today we feature three young shining stars as we continue to honor the best and brightest.
Tony Hansberry Jr.
Tony Hansberry Jr. was a child prodigy of the medical field. At 14 years old, Hansberry developed a new suture method for hysterectomy patients. Because of Hansberry, patients now have decreased hospital stays and more efficient surgeries. His breakthrough was fueled by his loss at his eighth grade science fair at Darnell Cookman School of Medical Arts. The school has been described as the first medical magnet school in the country.
Hansberry’s research began during a summer internship at the University of Florida ‘s Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research in Jacksonville, Florida.
Now at age 18, Hansberry, a.k.a. “The next Charles Drew” is a freshman bio-medical engineering student at Florida A&M University. The Tallahassee native serves as senator of his freshman class and is a chemistry major. He’s followed his father’s footsteps by enrolling at FAMU and his mother’s – who is a registered nurse.
In 2006, Hansberry told the press that his dream was to become a University of Florida-trained neurosurgeon. This year, he was honored at the McDonalds 365 Black Awards for his medical contributions to aiding in strengthening the African American community.
Many parents dream of their children going to Harvard one day. But one local resident has actualized the goal of getting into the prestigious university — at 15 years old!
Saheela Ibraheem, of Edison, was also accepted to MIT and 13 other schools, including Princeton and Columbia before settling on Harvard after falling in love with the campus.
Ibraheem skipped two grades and said the key to success is figuring out what you love to learn as early as possible — something she did at age 5.
“If you are passionate about what you do, and I am passionate about most of these things, especially with math and science, it will work out well.”
The Harvard-bound teen speaks Arabic, Spanish and Latin. She said she hopes to become a research scientist and study the brain.
Ibraheem’s teachers at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School said their student was an old soul.
“I believe that she’s 15 years old, because I’m told that. But other than that I have a hard time,” Jim O’Halloran said.
In addition to academics, Ibraheem plays the trombone, softball and soccer. Despite her activities, Ibraheem said her number one priority was her family. Her 7-year-old brother Saleem was her biggest cheerleader when it came to picking a college.
“I was really psyched because she got into a great school and I wanted to go to Harvard, too,” her brother said.
As far as Ibraheem’s advice for her fellow aspiring students?
“Kids should try to listen to their parents most of the time. They know what they’re doing,” she said.
Brittney Exline graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in May 2011 at the age of 19, making her the youngest engineer to graduate from the school and the youngest African-American engineer in the country.
At a time when young African Americans get too much publicity for violence or having children out of wedlock, Exline is proving to be an example of all the good that is possible.
“I really don’t think it’s been any different, except for in the beginning people are always a little shocked to learn that, but if they get to know me, then they know that it’s just a number,” Exline said at the time of her graduation.
After graduating, Exline decided to take a job as a software engineer outside of Boston. She eventually plans to head back to graduate school, though, to follow up on her Bachelor’s degree in computer science.
In addition to her collegiate success, Exline is one well-rounded young lady: She speaks five languages and graduated with minors in psychology, math, and classical studies. She also has a passion for volunteering to help others, having traveled to Cameroon with the One Laptop program.
And at the tender age of 16, Exline worked on Wall Street and was also a participant in several teen pageants, winning two in Colorado in 2004 and 2006.
Not to mention that Exline was building pyramids with blocks at 6 months old and walking at 8 months.
Exline owes part of her success to her parents, Chyrese and Christopher Exline.
In an interview with Ebony magazine, Chyrese said of her parenting,”I made sure they remained committed even when they wanted to quit. They learned you can’t quit an activity just because it’s hard. Sometimes you need to stick with something. That’s the only way to learn how to persevere and overcome true obstacles. Eventually, it becomes a part of you. I believe this.”
Just imagine the potential this young lady has. With her youth and advanced study, she has the chance to do something great.
But the best part about Exline might be her humility.
“I don’t think of myself as extraordinary,” she said.