Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian Ever

History has been made at one of the most prestigious universities in the world! Nicholas Johnson becomes the very first black valedictorian at Princeton University.

 Nicholas Johnson has been named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020. Princeton plans to have a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020 on Sunday, May 31, 2020. An in-person ceremony will be held in May 2021.

 The operations research and financial engineer from Montreal had this to say, “My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time 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 says he plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before he starts to begin Ph.D. studies in operations research at the MIT in the fall.

 Among his professors, William Massey, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering, and Dannelle Gutarra Cordero, a lecturer in African American studies, were influential for the 2020 valedictorian.

 “Professor Massey inspired me by sharing his ever-present love for operations research and through his advocacy for black and African American students in STEM fields,” Johnson said. “He encouraged me to pursue increasingly ambitious research projects and to share my work at academic conferences. Professor Gutarra introduced me to academic writing during my first-year Writing Seminar. She was instrumental in helping me develop my skills as an effective academic writer and communicator, and she motivated me to become a writing fellow.
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