March 22, 2023

Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian

Now for some positive news:

Nicholas Johnson has become Princeton’s very first black valedictorian. Originally from Canada, Johnson focused his studies on financial engineering and operations research. He also studied mathematics, statistics, and computing while at Princeton.

About improving the world, he says: “It requires an intimate familiarity and engagement with the present state of the world, coupled with the capacity to unabashedly dream of a distinctly different future.”

In his commencement speech, he quoted Michelle Obama from her graduating class of 1985, saying, “It was possible, I knew, to live on two planes at once—to have one’s feet planted in reality but pointed in the direction of progress. You may live in the world as it is, but you can still work to create the world as it should be.”

Johnson plans to begin Ph.D. studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this upcoming fall semester.

Watch Nicholas Johnson’s commencement speech below:


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