Being named valedictorian of your class is a huge honor in and of itself, but when Ahmed Muhammad recently delivered his valedictorian speech at Oakland Technical High School, he had one other major reason to celebrate.
The California resident didn't just outrank all of his classmates. He also holds the honor of being the first Black male valedictorian in his school's 106-year history. So when he first heard the news, Muhammad was naturally thrilled.
"I was so happy! The first thing I did was hug my parents and sister. A lot of people have poured a lot of hard work into my education, and being valedictorian was a nice symbol to show for it," the 18-year-old told TODAY via email.
"The lack of science resources isn’t just an Oakland problem. It’s a Bay Area problem, a California problem, a United States problem, and a worldwide problem. Our goal is to give every young scientist, no matter who or where they are, the opportunity to realize their potential," he pointed out.
As he looks ahead to his time at Stanford, Muhammad feels honored to become the first member of his immediate family to attend college and feels grateful that his parents have helped prepare him for this special moment.
"My story isn’t possible without the love, support, and sacrifices made by those who have come before me, so it’s my responsibility to pay this forward and continue to uplift the kids coming after me," he wrote. "I hope they can see this and use my story as inspiration that their wildest dreams are within reach. I’m the first Black male valedictorian at my school, but I won’t be the last."