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Michelle Obama Congratulates Princeton's 1st Black Valedictorian for Making History

Claudine Varela
May 16, 2020
08:00 P.M.
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Princeton alum Michelle Obama proudly lauded this year's valedictorian for making history as the first Black student to hold the distinction in the university.


The 2020 graduates of Princeton had the distinction of being the first batch with a Black valedictorian in the university’s history. Princeton alum Michelle Obama was among those who congratulated record-breaking Nicholas Johnson for his achievement.

Michelle Obama promoting her book, "Becoming" in Tacoma, Washington in March 2019. | Photo: Getty Images



On May 11, the former First Lady tweeted her pride for Nicholas who graduates top of his batch. She likewise acknowledged his historical feat at becoming the first Black Princeton graduate to claim the valedictorian honors in the school’s 274-year history.

Nicholas is a native of Montreal, Canada with parents of Bahamas and Jamaican descent. He majored in operations research and financial engineering


“This Princeton alum is so proud of you, Nick!” Michelle wrote. “Congratulations on becoming valedictorian—and making history.” She also predicted a bright future for Nicholas when adding,

“I have a feeling this is just the beginning for you, and I cannot wait to see everything you continue to achieve.”



Nicholas is a native of Montreal, Canada with parents of Bahamian and Jamaican descent. He majored in operations research and financial engineering while pursuing certificates for statistics and machine learning, applied and computational mathematics, and applications of computing.

In response to Michelle’s tweet and many others who sent love, Nicholas expressed his thanks for everyone’s support.

“My journey has only been possible because of the countless people who have supported and inspired me along the way. Looking forward to sharing my speech as Princeton's 2020 Valedictorian on May 31st!”



Nicholas is currently in the last leg of his college life completing his final exams. After his graduation which will be held virtually, he intends to pursue his doctorate degree in operations research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Speaking about his feat during Princeton’s “We Roar” podcast, Nicholas acknowledged the challenges he faced completing his course in the midst of the pandemic. He was especially saddened by the loss of the opportunity to spend his final weeks with his friends and classmates.


He credited Princeton for molding him through the “transformative” experiences he had on campus. He likewise thanked his parents for assisting him in making important decisions.

More importantly, Nicholas was grateful to be an instrument to inspire other Black and African Americans through his achievement.

Congratulations Nicholas and we wish you success in your future endeavors. You make us proud!


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