Toryana Jackson has become the first female African American in at least a decade to achieve the rank of valedictorian in the history of Henninger High School, district officials announced.
She say though, there’s something else lifting her sprits.
“We just started crying because we’re so happy because it was a whole bunch of years of hard work,” said Jackson.
She will graduate at the top of her class with a 4.0 GPA, a goal she has been striving for since eighth grade.
“She had asked her mom, ‘what’s a valedictorian?” said Charles "CJack" Jackson, Toryana’s dad. “From that day on she was like ‘maybe that’s something I can shoot for.”’
Toryana continued,“I actually got letters from an elementary school and some third graders wrote letters about me, saying they want to be just like me when they grow up, so it’s just inspirational.”
An elementary school teacher even gave a lesson about Juneteenth and Toryana’s accomplishment.
“She’s really proud of me because she was my teacher back in fifth grade,” said Toryana. “So it's full circle.”
Jackson delivers her valedictorian speech on Sunday, and she will even get a special honor from a senator. Toryana has a full scholarship to Wellesley College, and this fall she will be pursuing a degree in journalism. She’s the second generation in her family to get the scholarship and pursue a journalism degree.
*Editor's note: The article has been updated to reflect Toryana Jackson is the first female African American in at least a decade to achieve the valedictorian rank at Henninger High School. A previous version was incorrect.