Black excellence can never be denied.
As such, St. Thomas High School senior Kellin McGowan just became the first black valedictorian in the school’s 119-year history.
His otherworldly 4.57 GPA beat out his peers, who principal Aaron Dominguez takes pride in for the nurturing environment the students have fostered.
“The guys here are really competitive academically,” Dominguez told KHOU 11. “They support each other. They hold each other up, but they’re also vying to be the very, very best.”
According to ABC 13, McGowan’s outstanding academic achievements have cemented his status within the school’s prestigious St. Thomas Club, which is for students who maintain a minimum 4.0 grade point average for seven consecutive semesters. Which, of course, is no small feat.
Not only is McGowan the secretary of the National Honor Society, he’s also a recipient of the Albert R. Gaelens Award—which is awarded to the student who best exemplifies the school’s “Teach Me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge” motto.
English teacher Darrell Yarbrough called McGowan, “a superhero with a cloak of humility” and asserted “you will never meet a nicer person.”
Ever humble, McGowan admits he was surprised when he learned that he was named class valedictorian. But keenly aware of the racial dynamics within this country, he believes his mission is bigger.
“By being valedictorian, I think that I can change some people’s perspective about my race specifically,” said McGowan. “People have these misguided notions about what it means to be African-American [...] There’s more to us than what they think.”
After graduating, McGowan plans to attend the University of Chicago, where he’ll pursue a degree in political science in order to eventually become an immigration attorney.
And for those doubting their own ability to achieve their goals, McGowan offered some words of affirmation.
“You can do anything that you set your mind to,” he said. “And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything.