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Nicholas Johnson

Source: Lisa Festa, Center for Career Development / Nicholas Johnson/Princeton

Some good news during these absolutely trying times, Princeton has announced that it will have its first Black valedictorian in the school’s 274-year history.

The prestigious university made the announcement that Montreal native, Nicholas Johnson was named the valedictorian of the class of 2020. The decision marks the first time Princeton will have a Black person who will hold the highest academic achievement in the school, which has a checkered past when it comes to slavery.

Johnson is well aware of Princeton’s history and spoke becoming the predominately white university’s first Black valedictorian, a decision which stunned him when he first found out.

“Being Princeton’s first black valedictorian is very empowering, especially given its historical ties to the institution of slavery.”
Johnson also pointed out that Princeton is taking steps to “reconcile” its checkered past.
“They’ve taken very deliberate steps to reconcile things.”
The 22-year-old graduate majored in operations research and financial engineering, he wrote his thesis on developing algorithms to design a community-based preventive health intervention to decrease obesity in Canada. His study also included applications to help impose social distancing guidelines to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Sounds very worthy of being named valedictorian to us.
When asked what would be his fondest memories during his time at Princeton, Johnson reflected on spending time with his close friends.

“My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time 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.”

Princeton’s commencement ceremony will be virtual due to COVID-19 and will be held on Sunday, May 31, 2020. Johnson will be in attendance.

Photo: Lisa Festa, Center for Career Development / Nicholas Johnson/Princeton

Clap For Him: It Only Took 274 Years, But Princeton Finally Has Its First Black Valedictorian  was originally published on