Princeton University senior Nicholas Johnson has been named the first black valedictorian in the school’s 274-year history.
Johnson, a 22-year-old native of Montreal, Canada, is majoring in operations research and financial engineering. Johnson said he appreciates the encouragement he received at Princeton to develop his academic interests.
He plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before beginning his Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology beginning in the fall of 2020.
He also is pursuing certificates in statistics and machine learning and applied computational mathematics. His senior thesis is titled “Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization with Applications Addressing Canada’s Obesity Epidemic.”
Princeton was founded as the College of New Jersey. Its first nine presidents were slaveholders.
Princeton will hold a virtual commencement for the Class of 2020 on Sunday, May 31, in which Johnson will participate. An in-person graduation ceremony will be held in May 2021.
The announcement about Johnson comes after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation on Thursday arrested and charged two white men with the February 23rd murder of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black jogger, in Brunswick, Georgia.
Police in Flint, Michigan, also arrested two men and a woman who murdered a Family Dollar security guard who told the woman and her daughter they had to wear protective masks to gain entry into the store.