ABOVE PHOTO: Gary, Indiana native Katie Washington was named the first black valedictorian in Notre Dame University’s 168-year history.
For the first time in the 168-year history of Notre Dame University, an African American has been crowned valedictorian.
“I am humbled,” said 21-year-old Gary, Indiana native Katie Washington to the Northwest Indiana Times. “I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.”
Washington, who earned a 4.0 grade point average, has a minor in Catholic Social Teaching. She has conducted research on lung cancer at the Cold Springs Harbor labs and performed genetic studies in the University’s Eck Institute for Global Health on the mosquito that carries dengue and yellow fever. She is the co-author of a research paper with David Severson, professor of biological sciences.
She also directs the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, is a mentor/tutor for the Sister-to-Sister program at South Bend’s Washington High School and serves as the student coordinator of the Center for Social Concerns’ “Lives in the Balance: Youth Violence and Society Seminar.”
Washington has been accepted to five schools, including Harvard, but the biology major and Catholic social teaching minor will take her 4.0 GPA to Johns Hopkins University next fall, where she plans to pursue a joint M.D./Ph.D.
“Katie works so hard,” Washington’s mother Jean Tomlin told the newspaper. “I told her when she went to Notre Dame, ‘You are representing your family, your church and the city of Gary. Make us proud.'”
University officials said they couldn’t recall ever having a black valedictorian, and don’t keep record of their race.
She has definitely made her family proud and is following in their footsteps. Her father is a doctor, her mother and sister are nurses, one brother is completing his residency and another brother works for British Petroleum.
“I have had so much support, people who really wanted to see that I reached my full potential,” Washington told nwitimes.com. “They all had my best interest at heart.”
Washington will address the class of 2010 at commencement on May 16.