Abiba Dyuti: From Richmond Hill High School to Harvard on a Full Scholarship!

Abiba Dyuti, from Richmond Hill High School to Harvard University on a full scholarship

By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

Three years ago, Abiba Dyuti migrated with her parents from Dhaka, in Bangladesh, to New York City. Her memories of Dhaka are recent. She attended Scholastica School up to the first semester in the ninth grade. She was good at Math but fell in love with Economics. Her dad is Ahkam Ullah and her mom is Bilkis Rahman and there is a sister Ariba. Both of her parents are professionals and are graduates of Dhaka University; her mom holds a doctorate from Dhaka.

Abiba’s family is a wonderful inspiration. Abiba (center) is with her dad Ahkam, her mom Bilkis and her little sister Ariba.

Abiba says that adjusting to New York had its challenges but these were lessened by the fact that there was an extended family here. Abiba duly enrolled at Richmond Hill High School in New York. It turned out to be the only school that she will attend in the City. Richmond Hill is in the Borough of Queens that is one of the most diverse places in the country.

Abiba found her freshman year to be relatively easy but it got harder later. The mix of students was great. It made her feel at ease. There were Bengali students that were active in student leadership and she got connected to them and this gave her a sense of community. Abiba says that her first year was a ‘rollercoaster of emotions. I was finding my way but I think I adjusted well. I joined soccer, leadership class, did an internship with DRUM and participated in related community activities.’

Abiba with Principal of Richmond Hill High School, Neil Ganesh, who has been most supportive

The second year was more challenging. The courses were harder and she had to buckle down to her studies. Her hard work paid off and she did well. How did Harvard enter the picture? Abiba says that the idea of going to Harvard occurred to her during her freshman year. She found that Harvard was a great place to study Economics but to get there she had to maintain good grades and to show that she was taking advantage of opportunities around her. She had to present the total package! She filled the forms in October 2019 for Harvard; it was the only college to which she applied.

What was her experience at Richmond Hill like? Abiba says that, ‘had it not been for Richmond Hill I wouldn’t have made it. I wanted no other School, but Richmond Hill. I loved the attention that I got in this School. The teachers are caring. I had exactly what I needed to do well.’ There are a number of teachers that Abiba would like to thank.

They include, Mr. Watson, Calculus; Ms. Shabana, Spanish; Mr. Garretson, AP English Literature; Ms. Wolf, AP English Language; Ms. Doobay, Coordinator of Student’s Association; and her Guidance Counselor, Ms. Fowler. The Principal, Mr. Neil Ganesh, has always been supportive and under his leadership, and that of his team, Richmond Hill has become one of the top schools in Queens.

Abiba looks to the future with optimism and a doctorate and the Nobel Prize are in her sights. She singles out her parents and her Calculus teacher, Mr. Lloyd Watson, for pushing her to greater heights. Abiba plays the guitar, soccer, and plans to minor in theater. Her advice to her peers is to stay on task and to be focused.

Abiba with Calculus teacher Lloyd Watson who has encouraged her to reach for the stars.

There is no doubt that Abiba will do well at Harvard and make us proud. She is charming, confident and affable, and willing to take on challenges. In her Harvard supplemental essay Abiba wrote, ‘I am not the smartest, not the most talented, and not really the best at anything, but I have given my all into everything I ever cared about.’

She looked at the clock and checked her portal for the Harvard update. There was excitement and tears of joy. Abiba has brought honor to her family, her School, and to her community. We wish her all the best in the future.