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A teen from Houston is ending his high school experience off with a huge accomplishment. According to Fox 26, Kellin McGowan made history by becoming the first Black student at St. Thomas High School to be named valedictorian.

McGowan has displayed excellence throughout his entire academic career. He served on the student council and finished his senior year of high school with a 4.57 GPA. Aside from excelling academically he was active in his community; volunteering weekly at his local church. 17-year-old McGowan is surprised that it’s taken this long for the school to select a Black valedictorian, but he’s proud that he has broken the racial barrier and hopes his accomplishment inspires generations of students behind him to strive for greatness.

“It’s crazy to think about how after 119 years, I’m the first African-American Valedictorian. It was a mixture of ‘Yes I did it’ and ‘Wow, mind blown’. I’m excited,” he said in a statement. “My parents always taught me to try my best. In order to do so, I took a ton of challenging courses.” The University of Chicago-bound student wants to pursue a career in immigration law and plans on studying political science.

The faculty at St. Thomas High School are proud of McGowan’s achievement. “I’m so happy for his mom and dad. They are phenomenal people and I know, like all parents, they make tremendous sacrifices for him to be here,” said school principal Aaron Dominguez. “Kellin has always been an academic stud. Just an all-around great kid.”

African American high school students throughout the country are setting the bar high when it comes to academic achievement. According to Tulsa World 18-year-old Raylynn Thompson—who was once told by a stranger that Black people can’t become valedictorians—not only graduated at the top of her class but earned a 4.7 GPA and 62 college acceptance letters.

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