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The Ivies Wanted Him Four Years Ago They Want Him Even More Now That He's Seen UC

When Mostafa Ibrahim was selecting a college, he was fortunate to have several choices of colleges from which to choose. He was accepted to Yale, Columbia, Hopkins and several other top schools — but he chose to come to the University of Cincinnati.

Mostafa’s story was featured in

Time magazine's August 2006 cover article "Who Needs Harvard?"

The article was about how students are giving up the "name and prestige" for "lesser-known" schools for various reasons, such as financial aid.

“Back then in high school, I was preparing for the future. I figured that if I went to one of those other schools, I would have loans building up at whichever school, then another $150 to 200 thousand for the next four years of med school. That was not anything I was prepared to do. So four years ago finances was the biggest factor in my decision,” he says. “But looking back in hindsight, at how much I've grown as a person at UC, and the friends and faculty I've met here, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m glad that I did have the offer of the Darwin T. Turner Scholarship at the University of Cincinnati.”


Darwin T. Turner Scholars Program

is one of the oldest ethnic scholarship programs in America. It was named after Darwin T. Turner, the youngest person ever to graduate from UC, having done so at the age of 16. The program provides full-tuition scholarships and stipends to academically talented students of color. Mostafa also received a



“From the academic and personal being a Turner scholar was one of the best parts of my being at UC,” he says. He notes that with UC’s 23,000-plus undergraduates on campus, it might be an easy place for a first-year student to feel lost or like another face in the crowd. “But when you go into the Turner office, Dr. Eric Abercrumbie and Dr. Brandi Hutchins know your name, what you’re about, what your goals are. You’re not just a number. You’re part of the Turner family. They make an extreme effort to know all the Turner scholars.”

Eric Abercrumbie, director of Ethnic Programs & Services and director of the African-American Cultural and Research Center, is proud of Mostafa’s accomplishments at UC.

“I know where he came from,” says Abercrumbie. “And I can think of no other student who had such pressure of the visibility in making what was a very difficult decision in selecting UC over very prestigious Ivy League schools.”

“And he was successful — he withstood the pressure,” Abercrumbie adds. “Now all the schools are after him.”

Mostafa is a chemistry major in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences. There, his favorite faculty members were Deborah Lieberman and Allan Pinhas.

“Both my brother and my sister came to UC and were chemistry majors and we all had Dr. Lieberman,” says Mostafa. “At this point I think it’s almost more like a friendship and we are past the point where I’m like a student in the class. Especially with Dr. Lieberman, she’ll just see me in the hall and come up to me and talk or I’ll just drop in on her office to talk with her. Drs. Lieberman and Pinhas were a big help to me in deciding where to go to medical school.”

So in his four years at UC, Mostafa has made many connections with both faculty and staff that have made it clear that his being one of 23,000-plus undergrads at UC was a good thing. Now he’ll be doing it all over again as he chooses another school

He’s chosen Yale University for med school.

“I fortunately had my options, but, again, I understood from what UC has taught me that it’s not the name of the school where you go to it’s what they offer you,” says Mostafa. “This is one of the most important decisions I’ll ever make in my life. I looked at the curriculum of each school. When I went to my interview, I stayed and asked a lot of questions. Yale emphasizes a lot of independent learning and I liked that.”

Mostafa feels that he will flourish in an environment that requires him to be self-motivated.

“I learned that here doing my undergraduate research where the projects were my projects and I was pretty much self-directed,” he says. “Dr. Pinhas was my research advisor and mentored me, of course, but I had to motivate myself.”

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“My personal growth and academic growth, the faculty I’ve met, friends I’ve met —  “I’ve learned so much in the past four years here that I don’t think I would have learned anywhere else,” Mostafa says.

9/12/2006   TIME Magazine Features Student’s Praise of UC

An incoming freshman who says he turned down the Ivies is quoted in a recent TIME Magazine article, titled “Who Needs Harvard?”