History made at Notre Dame

African Americans can now add a new accolade to a list of firsts. Katie Washington, 21, is Notre Dame’s first African-American valedictorian. Washington is a biological science student from Gary, Ind. She will present the valedictory address during commencement exercises May 16, at the Notre Dame Stadium.According to university officials, in its 168 years of existence, Notre Dame has not had a record of having a black person awarded this achievement.“I am humbled,” said Washington to the Northwest Indiana Times. “I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.” Washington, who also has a minor in Catholic social teaching, has earned a 4.0 GPA. While pursuing her undergraduate degree, she has conducted research on lung cancer along with a genetics study on mosquitoes that carry yellow fever and dengue. Washington has been accepted to five schools, including Harvard, but plans on taking her talents to Johns Hopkins University, where she plans to enter the joint M.D./Ph.D program.Washington’s success shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, she does come from a family of achievers. Both her mother and sister are nurses, her father is a doctor, her brother works for British Petroleum and her other brother is finishing a residency. “Katie works so hard. I told her, when she went to Notre Dame, ‘you are representing your family, your church and the city of Gary,'” said Washington’s mother Jean Tomlin to Chicago’s NBC 7.Some of her success can be attributed to a viable support system, her family. After reading articles about her achievements, this should make black people proud to see Washington attaining such a high honor.African Americans attend colleges across the United States. When one achieves what Katie Washington has, it should drive everyone to persevere.Not only should it give us a sense of determination, but it also reaffirms the belief that African Americans can achieve high levels of success in schools outside of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. This achievement shows that blacks can compete in any sector and succeed.Hopefully Washington’s success instills some sort of drive and determination in students. Her accolades demonstrates that there is a finish line in the undergraduate race.