In the spirit of Black girl magic and representation, an Illinois teen graduated top of her class and is proud to be her high school’s first Black female valedictorian in the school’s 159-year history. Coming from a family of high achievers, Nina Mitchell graduated with a 4.549 GPA from Dekalb High School.
“I was very humbled and honored,” the 17-year-old told “Good Morning America.” “I am representing Black students and female students. They can look up to me and say, ‘Wow, Nina did it, so I can do it.’ That was really important for me.”
Mitchell is proud to be following in the footsteps of her grandmother Pearlene Carter, who also graduated top of her class and was the valedictorian of her high school in 1959.
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Her family served as the biggest motivation for her success seeing that her two brothers, Robert and Michael were also high achievers. They both graduated from Dekalb High school as well in the top 10 of their classes.
“I didn’t get here alone. My parents always set me up for success, and my brothers inspire me to do better,” she said. “My grandma has always been an inspiration for me, and a role model. She’s a force to be reckoned with. She’s always bragged about me to her friends and has made me feel so loved.”
Parents are always proud of their children’s achievements and Nina’s father; Darren Mitchell is one proud girl dad. He said his daughter placed more importance on her academic life and sacrificed her social life to earn high scores in school. He said he raised his children to value education.
“She’s always been a hard-working student and a voracious reader,” he recalled to Midweek News. “She’s always loved reading. [She and her brothers] didn’t grow up with video games, but they had books, Scrabble, puzzles and Legos.”
Nonetheless it is important to have a balanced life in school and in society as well and Nina did just that so beautifully. While in school, she did over 150 hours of community service and served on boards of different organisations.
Aside from her excellent grades in class, Nina won the Homecoming Queen last year and was the class president for all her four years in high school. With regards to college, Nina got accepted into Harvard and Stanford, but she chose University of Illinois closer to home and has a full scholarship to study business.
“It’s so important to get good grades and get involved, not only at school, but also in your community,” Nina told Midweek News. “If you work hard to accomplish your goals with dedication, you will get there, but it is no easy feat.”
She added: “I had tremendous teachers at Cornerstone and DHS. I’ve had incredible opportunities. DeKalb has definitely shaped me. I didn’t get here alone. My brothers, parents, family and friends and the community supported me along the way.”