Black girl magic is in full effect this graduation season. From grade school to college Black girls and women are displaying academic excellence and making history in the process. According to KTVE, two Black teens from Arkansas hit major milestones by becoming the first African American females to be named valedictorian and salutatorian in the Junction City School District’s history.
The two standouts not only excelled academically; they became pillars in their school’s community through their involvement in several extracurricular groups. Alexis Peterson—who was named valedictorian—managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA while balancing cheerleading and being involved in several other school groups. Outside of school Peterson, who is Northwestern State-bound, has been active in her community; often volunteering at her local church and participating in grassroots initiatives. Taykeetria Rogers—who was named salutatorian—will continue her education at Louisiana Tech. Her accolades went beyond academics. The basketball star was named player of the year and consecutively made the all-state cheer team.
Peterson was humbled and grateful to be selected as valedictorian. She hopes her historic accomplishment will inspire other Black girls to strive for greatness. “It feels good to be the top two black females because they have never had it,” she told the news outlet. Rodgers credits her success to staying focused and being authentic. “Never try to change yourself,” she said. “Always try to be a better you.”
News about their accomplishments comes weeks after Houston teen Kellin McGowan became the first Black student in St. Thomas High School’s 119-year history to be named valedictorian. Earlier this month Tobechukwu Phillips became Alvin High School’s first Black valedictorian. She finished her high school chapter with a 6.9 GPA and received a full scholarship to the University of Texas at Austin. “Do not conform to the stereotypes that have held us under thumbs for so long,” she told Because of Them We Can. “Do not be discouraged when someone speaks out against you, simply allow what they say to fuel your fire.”