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Student Becomes First African-American Valedictorian At Benjamin Cardozo High School

Shanelle Davis (Credit: Milken Family Foundation)

Shanelle Davis (Credit: Milken Family Foundation)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Queens high school student has made academic history after becoming the first African-American student to be her school’s valedictorian.

As 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported, Shanelle Davis is a senior at Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside and will be graduating at the top of her class.

“It’s an incredible honor. It’s still surreal to me,” she said.

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Davis, who lives in Jamaica, Queens, said she didn’t realize she was making history until the student rankings were announced.

“Out of 845 students and mine said number one. And then afterward I was speaking to administration in the school and they’re like ‘you know we’ve never had an African-American (valedictorian) before.’ Then that’s how I found out,” she said.

Davis said she hopes that her achievement inspires underclassmen in her school.

“School is like, it’s very diverse, but it’s predominantly Asian. So most African-Americans in the school think that OK so since there’s been like always an Asian or a white valedictorian that they can’t do it. But then I can be an example for them to show that they can also do it. So maybe next year they’ll have another African-American one,” Davis said.

Davis, who is a Milken Scholar, plans to attend Harvard University in the fall. She is the first in her family to attend a four-year college.

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