Although it feels long overdue, we are proud to relay the news that Princeton University has named its first black valedictorian in the school’s 274-year history. The student to earn the honor for Princeton’s Class of 2020 is Nicholas Johnson, a Canadian student majoring in operations research and financial engineering.
“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.”
Johnson’s senior thesis focused on developing algorithms to design a community-based preventative health intervention to decrease obesity in Canada. In the fall, Johnson will begin his Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—a source of many of the solutions that the Optimist Daily writes about. Well done Nicolas, we hope you’re the first of many to claim this honorable title.