Nigerian-born teenager, Tobechukwu Phillips has broken a 125-year academic history of her high school in Texas, US.
Phillips who is a student of Alvin High School reached a 6.9 GPA, after earning A’s throughout her stay in the school and emerged the first Black valedictorian in the school’s history.
Originally established in 1894, Alvin High School only allowed African-American students to join the school in 1965.
While speaking with Because of Them We Can, Phillips noted that it was not an easy road, “Maintaining the highest GPA in my class is a difficult task. It truly takes time management but more importantly acknowledging what you do it for. I know that I am no longer just representing myself.
“My biggest advice to other scholars of colour is to truly adopt the mindset of Rosa Parks — ‘No.’ Do not conform to the stereotypes that have held us under thumbs for so long,” she explained. “Do not be discouraged when someone speaks out against you, simply allow what they say to fuel your fire. But more than anything, do not remain tight-lipped. Stand up for what you believe in and take it upon yourself to be the change you’ve always wanted. Say ‘No’ to the ways of the world and stick out,” she advised her other students.
Phillips who plans to one day own her own clinic as a paediatric nurse has got a full scholarship to attend the Nursing School at the University of Texas.
She earned a 6.9 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale, placing her at the top of her class. She only took AP courses aside from her electives and earned all A’s all four years in the courses. Out of a school with approximately 2,800 students only 86 are Black students.
The high school senior received the Full-Ride Forty Acre Scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Austin. It is the most prestigious scholarship that UT offers. Out of 4,000 students, only 16 were chosen.
“She is an excellent student from a loving family,” her track coach Jennipher McGraw said.
Phillips has dealt with her fair share of challenges and scrutiny from her peers, however she has prevailed and has a message for other students like her.
In addition to her academic studies Phillips is a decorated volleyball and track athlete. She is also a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Rho Kappa Honor Society, president of the National Honor Society and an AP ambassador.
Phillips will attend the Nursing School at UT in the fall. Her plan is to one day own her own clinic as a pediatric nurse practitioner.
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