NICHOLAS JOHNSON BECOMES FIRST BLACK VALEDICTORIAN AT PRINCETON

Nicholas Johnson, valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020.

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. “I hope that this achievement motivates and inspires younger black students, particularly those interested in STEM fields.”

Johnson’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 release.

This summer, he will intern as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D.E. Shaw Group, a global investment and technology development firm.

In the fall, Johnson will begin his PhD. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Although the coronavirus pandemic canceled Princeton’s in-person graduation ceremony, the school is still holding a virtual one on May 31.

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