Princeton University has named its first black valedictorian in the school’s 274-year history.
Nicholas Johnson, a Canadian student majoring in operations research and financial engineering, has been named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020, the university announced in a news release.
“It feels empowering. Being Princeton’s first Black Valedictorian holds special significance to me particularly given Princeton’s historical ties to the institution of slavery,” Johnson told CNN via Facebook message.
“I hope that this achievement motivates and inspires younger black students, particularly those interested in STEM fields.”
The graduating senior’s favorite memories at school were those spent with “close friends and classmates engaging in stimulating discussions — often late at night — about our beliefs, the cultures and environments in which we were raised, the state of the world, and how we plan on contributing positively to it in our own unique way,” Johnson said in the school’s news release.
He also said he appreciated the university for encouraging him to explore his interests by supporting him with international internships and cultural immersion trips to Peru, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom.