If you ask a six-year-old what he or she wants to do with their time, it’s not surprising if the replies range from playing with toys to watching their favorite Nickelodeon or Disney cartoon show.
However, this was not the case with British-Nigerian Esther Okade, who was taking her maths GCSE, which is typically taken by 14- to 16-year-olds in the United Kingdom, at the age of six and receiving a C.
Esther, who lives with her family in Walsall, West Midlands, has always been interested in math. At the age of six, she took her first Math GSCE exam, a British secondary school certificate, and achieved a C. She outdid herself a year later and received the A she desired. Then, when she took the Math A-level exam in 2014, she received a B.
At the age of ten, Okade enrolled in a university maths course at Open University (a UK-based distance learning college) and began receiving straight A’s as one of the country’s youngest undergraduate students. She was already at the top of the class three weeks after enrolling, having received a perfect score on her first test, which she described as “simple.”
At the time of enrolment, Esther said:
“I want to (finish the course) in two years. I actually wanted to start when I was seven. But my mum was like, “you’re too young, calm down.” So I’m going to do my PhD in financial maths when I’m 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”
While some may give credit to her mother, Omonefe “Efe” Okade, a mathematician, Esther’s decision to attend university was completely her own. Efe Okade, Esther’s mother, first noticed her daughter’s aptitude for numbers when she began homeschooling her at the age of three.
Esther’s story is perhaps most encouraging since she isn’t taking difficult math courses simply because she can; she is doing it because she genuinely wants to. Math is her interest, just as sports and music are for other children. CNN quoted her as saying:
“The course is so interesting. It has the type of maths of I love. It’s real maths — theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff. It was super easy. My mum taught me in a nice way.”
Esther is producing a series of math workbooks for youngsters called Yummy Yummy Algebra, in addition to becoming one of the youngest college students in history. Esther told CNN about the show:
“It starts at a beginner level — that’s volume one. But then there will be volume two, and volume three, and then volume four. But I’ve only written the first one. As long as you can add or subtract, you’ll be able to do it. I want to show other children they are special.”
Esther told CNN about her dream of opening a bank.
“I want to (finish the course) in two years. Then I’m going to do my PhD in financial maths when I’m 13. I want to have my own bank by the time I’m 15 because I like numbers and I like people and banking is a great way to help people.”