rebelling against low expectations

Esther Okade, Age 10: College Freshman at Open University


(YAHOO) — At 10 years old, most kids spend their free time riding a bike or memorizing “Let It Go” lyrics. But Esther Okade — who, to be fair, does love Frozen — is more interested in writing an algebra workbook for kids and studying for college exams.

Esther, a British-Nigerian home-schooled student, started in January as a freshman at the distance learning college Open University, making her one of the youngest college students in England.

“It’s so interesting. It has the type of maths I love. It’s real maths — theories, complex numbers, all that type of stuff,” Esther told CNN. “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.”

In the meantime, Esther is drafting a workbook that will help other kids love math as much as she does.

“As long as you can add or subtract, you’ll be able to do it,” she said of the book she’s calling Yummy Yummy Algebra. I want to show other children they are special.”


But Esther isn’t all schoolwork all the time. “She is a normal 10-year-old girl,” [her mother] Efe says. “She loves going to the park and playing with her friends. And she absolutely loves Frozen.”

Isaiah, Esther’s six-year-old brother, plans to take his first college qualifying exam in May. However, Efe doesn’t think her children are doing anything other kids can’t do, too.

“There is no child that can’t study math. I don’t believe there is any child who is not a genius,” she says. “Every child has a different learning style, but they all have that genius potential in them. But unless you truly believe in them, you don’t teach them that way. ”

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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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  • Wow, this girl is amazing. What have you accomplished in your life, teenaged high schoolers? 😛 I’m sure going to work harder at math now. I’m not about to be shown up by a ten-year-old!

  • Wow. Very well done! I agree with Gabrielle. This does put things in perspective. Now my academic “accomplishments” don’t look so huge anymore. Instead of “Look how awesome this is”, the message should be “Look how much more you can do.”

    I’m one of those people who loves learning, but HATES tests. Don’t worry, with enough practice, we’ll get there, with God’s help.

    • Agreed! I thought I was a math person cuz I’m doing pre-Cal in the tenth grade. But I don’t even know how to do complex theories and such. What kind of a nerd are you?

      • I’m more of an all-around nerd lol, I should be a sophomore but I’m a year ahead so I’m a junior, and I’m doing dual enrollment so it feels like I’m in college already. =P

        I’m also a bit of a music nerd (you can probably tell by my picture).

        What about you?

        • Kinda the same here, except its limited to only a few school subjects. I’m only a sophomore, but I’m doing pre-cal and chemistry. I learn all I can about physics and chemistry and science. I’m also a movie and book nerd, and somewhat of the same for music. Ask me anything about a movie or a book, and I’ll most likely know something about it. 🙂 What kind of music are you into? Playing or otherwise?

          • Cool! So do you want do to something involving math/physics for a living (like engineering) or what?

            Yeah, I play piano and a little guitar. I’ve actually made some money playing the piano – my dad (who’s a tenor) and I will get paid to go to places like retirement homes and sing/play for them. It’s a lot of fun AND we make good money. And I also enjoy listening to music, but who doesn’t. =)

          • Right on! I’m actually looking at chemical engineering (chemistry, math, physics = all my favorite subjects!) I play guitar in a church worship band. I’ve also tried my hand at the bass (and I sang once, which didn’t go super well…let’s just say, I’ve been told I have talent). What are your favorite bands and genres of music?

          • Cool…cool…and cool lol. =) Well, I’ve tried some contemporary Christian music but I can’t really find any I enjoy that much…I’m mainly into clasical/soundtrack (told you I was nerd =P ) Hbu?

          • What! I like classical and soundtrack to! Which are your favorites? My favorite soundtracks are usually for the superhero movies. Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel, and The Avengers are some favs, as well as Star Wars. I don’t enjoy much CCM either, so I listen to the stuff that isn’t as mainstream. But I don’t listen to any secular. And it’s mainly Christian rock like Newsboys, Skillet, Disciple, and others. What about you?

          • Awesome! Star Wars is probably my overall favorite, but I like anything by John Williams.I listen to secular music (Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, etc. lolol). I’ve just tried a couple of genre Christian stations on Pandora but I don’t really like any of them…someone who goes to my church summed it up great when he said most modern songs suffer from “four-chord syndrome” lol.

          • I know what you mean. Christian music can sound very monotonous. But I have found a few bands that stand out. How long have you been a Christian?

          • Well, I’ve been born and raised in a Christian family, so it feels like I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but I believe I was really saved a few years ago. =) You?

          • Same here. I’ve always been in a Christian family, and I’ve always been homeschooled, so I haven’t really had a chance to get out into the world. That’ll change, probably next year, when I start community college and perhaps get a job. I rededicated my life a couple years ago too. What state are you from?

          • Yeah, I understand! I’m from Georgia, and I’ve lived here all my life. How about you?

          • Born in California, raised in Texas. However, I have renounced my Californism because Texas is so much better! (No offense to those who live there, I just like Texas better).

          • Cool! My dad’s from California, too.

            And btw, it’s been great getting to know you better! =D

          • You too bro! We probably should quit spamming this post and let some things that are actually pertinent to it get through. 🙂 Nice talking to you.

    • I agree. Thank God for the mom. The parent has to have a lot of dedication and I’m sure sacrifice for her kids. This is a great example of how important it is for parents to be pouring into and very much involved in their kids lives, and hearing from God for their kids.

  • WOW!! I’ve never heard of anyone being quite that young! I think once you find the right curriculum you can just take off and graduate very young, like it was in the old days when people were done with college by 15. With God’s help, I definitely want to graduate my kids early. Who says we have to do the traditional way of school!! No one wants to be in school till 25yrs old!! Not I.

  • I read stories like this and am totally blown away….mostly because I’m fourteen already and hate math…:) but it truly is amazing and inspiring. Keep it up, Esther!

    • I think the reason many people don’t like math is, because it was never presented in a way that made sense to their learning style. I personally think math is very cool. I just have a hard time remembering some of the formulas. It is often the proses that I forget. If I remember the proses, I do fine.

      Also, if you don’t think of the application of what your learning, it can also be discouraging.

      Just a side note: I really learned a new way of thinking about things from just learning how to draw properly. Try to expand the way you think and observe. Try to look at things from multiple perspectives. Learning is one of the many spices of life.

      • I have struggled with math for a long time, which, like you said, is mostly because I forget really quickly. I’ve tried probably 10 (or more) different math programs, and none of them worked, but the one I’m doing right now has made more sense than anything. When I actually understand, I enjoy it a lot more 🙂
        So, I saw a conversation you had on here a while ago about the drawing upside down thing (that was you, right?) and a few days ago I decided to try and it was actually a lot better. I’m not a good drawer….:) but doing it like that made me enjoy it more. I like how you said that at the end “learning is one of the many spices of life”. Very true.
        Wow, you just like inspired me to try harder at learning! Haha, thanks 🙂

        • I have exceptionally pore memory and environmental awareness. I occasionally forget what side of the car I was on. I think, awareness, and memory are things that we can build up, by stretching ourselves.

          Yes, I was the one who mentioned the upside down drawing. 🙂

          And remember, God has given each individual different strengths.
          Where we are week God is strong. God is ultimately the only one
          holding us together. 🙂

          • Wow, sounds just like me. Good to know I’m not alone 🙂 And I think they can be built up too, although I still struggle with stretching myself…so if you ever have time could you pray for me for that too? 🙂

            Thanks for encouraging me so much, Josiah. I really appreciate it. Sometimes we all need a little encouragement…

          • Stretching myself can be really hard.
            This is something I am working on doing.

            Sure, I will try to pray specifically for you in that area as well as other areas. 🙂

  • So good to see how commitment to learning and doing the best with what has been given to us by God can achieve. Great example to inspire us to do our best… so long as it is Christ 1st and our relationship with Jesus is our 1st desire 🙂
    May this glorious example also be a witness to our wonderful creator.
    Thank you for inspiring us to do greater things.

  • Oh my goodness!! I know this girl! Was wondering when they’d catch on to her absolute genius. She’s always challenging her friends to love math and is such a sweetheart! God bless her.

  • And I thought I was good at math… Wow! But this really puts perspective in my life. I can do so much better than I am doing! I just have to put in the effort and do hard things!

  • This is amazing, and just inspires me to strive to become a well educated person. Esther, you are a wonderful child, who uses God’s gifts in miraculous ways.

  • Wow! I have long wished that my parents would have had higher expectations of me when I was younger — I had to wait a year to begin kindergarten because of my date of birth; I have not been allowed to move ahead in school because I am homeschooled by a few teachers with just a few other students, and a lack of resources makes it nessecary to have as few classes as possible. If I moved faster in school, I had to pause and wait for the others to catch up, because if I got a grade ahead of them, the teachers would have one more grade to teach. Our schedule is more flexible now, and I am completing highschool in three years, but I have often wanted any future children that I may have to reach for higher expectations than the normal. Esther’s story has told me that it is possible! Thank you, Esther, for doing what I and many others wish we had done, and for being an example of “extraordinary” to kids around the world!

By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →