PaliHi Student Receives Full Ride to Northwestern

Palisades High School student Chukwunonso Kojoonwaeze was excited after he received his acceptance letter to Northwestern.


Exiting middle school and moving on to high school is something many students find themselves worried about, and for good reason. New rules, new subjects, new teachers, new campus, the dreaded feeling of being a “fish out of water”… There are plenty of things to be worried about.

But at least you can count on a few things, like everyone around you speaking the same language you’ve spoken for your whole life.

Chukwunonso Kojoonwaeze did not have that luxury.

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Chukwunonso (he asks you to call him Nonso) first came to the United States when he was six years old.

Nonso’s father and mother, lawyer and nurse respectively, wanted him to have opportunities to explore and learn that they did not.

“They wanted to experience living somewhere else in the world and the different dynamics in cultures and lifestyle,” Nonso said. Although he still lived in Lagos, he began to spend more and more time in America.

Lagos is a major African financial center, and the city has significant influence on commerce, entertainment, education, politics, tourism, art and fashion in Africa. It is among the top ten of the worlds’ fastest growing cities. Primary languages spoken at home in Nigeria are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and English.

In 2020, the Kojoonwaezes moved to America for good, enrolling Nonso in Palisades Charter High School. Worried at first, Nonso was relieved when he found out there was nothing to fear. “I still miss my friends and family in Lagos. But I am glad I am in California. I love the amazing weather, food, social life, and academic opportunities that it has to offer.

“It is the perfect state that has everything all in one place,” Nonso said. “And at Pali, you can achieve anything because the school offers all the resources needed to succeed.”

He quickly excelled, becoming the Associated Student Body President and consistently reaching the top of his class academically.

This year, Nonso was one of 17,000 students in the nation nominated to the Posse Foundation for a scholarship. The Posse Foundation is an academic/philanthropic institution which chooses 10 students out of 17,000 and grants them a full ride to the college of their choice.

After being nominated by his teachers, a prerequisite for all Posse Foundation entrants, Nonso had to write several essays on his life, plans for the future, and other tough topics. When the results came back, Nonso was overjoyed to find out he’d won a full ride to any number of colleges.

“I recognize I am very lucky,” he said and chose Northwestern University, where he hopes to study law. “I plan on becoming a lawyer practicing in the medical or business law field in Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.”

“I chose to study law because I am very passionate about people who are unrepresented and silenced by society,” Nonso said. “As a lawyer, I will voice the needs and concerns of people who are suppressed.”

Chukwunonso Kojoonwaeze (Nonso) before he left Nigeria to come to the United States.


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3 Responses to PaliHi Student Receives Full Ride to Northwestern

  1. 'Joy' says:

    Congratulations to Nonso! What a great accomplishment. Thanks for sharing this special event with all of us.

  2. Eileen says:

    CONGRATULATIONS NONSO You will go far! !
    I had never heard of the POSSE Foundation until now.
    You will find NORTHWESTERN to be a wonderful place where people from all over the world study and work on solutions to today and tomorrow’s challenges.
    There’s lots to explore in the Midwest and Chicago.

  3. Priscilla says:

    I’m so proud of you my big boy! You’ve brought so much joy to us as a family. We know you’ll go far and beyond to achieve your goals, and we trust the process you’re on, we pray that as you embark on this new journey, our Father will be with you in every way. 🫶 Love, Aunty Priscilla🥰

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