Montrealer officially graduates from Princeton University as first Black valedictorian in school history

Princeton University’s valedictorian is making history today.

Montrealer Nicholas Johnson, who officially graduated Sunday from the prestigious university, is the first Black valedictorian in the school’s 274-year history.

“I’m truly humbled by this honor and this privilege of addressing you, Princeton’s great class of 2020, on this very significant day in our lives,” Johnson said from his parents’ house in Outremont while addressing the class of 2020.

Unable to celebrate with his classmate due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, he was honored to address his peers.

“As an operations research concentrator, I cannot help but ponder the probability of me addressing our class today virtually from my home in Montreal. To Princeton, our mentors and relatives, thank you for inspiring us to do the improbable,” Johnson said during his speech.

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READ MORE: Montrealer Nicholas Johnson hopes to inspire others as first Black valedictorian at Princeton

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Earlier this week, Nicholas’ mother Dr. Anita Brown Johnson told Global News how proud she was of her son making history.

“I could not be more proud of him — we are immensely proud — but at the same time immensely grateful with this honor he’s been granted,” Dr. Anita Brown Johnson said.

During his first year, he travelled to Peru with fellow classmates to build clean water systems, something he said he is proud of and will cherish forever.

“I will never forget the feelings of pride, happiness and amazement we shared at the end of that summer. Water flowed tens of kilometers from the source capture, located in the soaring mountains, to the first tap stand we had built at a house on the hillside,” Johnson said.

READ MORE: Canadian makes history as Princeton’s first Black valedictorian

Johnson hopes that we can all adjust to the new normal and continue to find ways to win the ongoing battle with COVID-19.

“Let us rise to the occasion to make transformative strides in advancing solutions to the world’s most pressing problems,” he said. “Let us fight passionately to ensure that this stressful period of sacrifice as (a) moment in history when diversity of thought, creativity, compassion and bravery conquered fear of a common threat to humankind. With perseverance, we will overcome — more than ever let us build a better normal.”

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Johnson has internships lined up for this summer and will continue his education at MIT, pursuing a PhD. in operations research.

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