Onovu Otitigbe-Dangerfield has made history to become the first Black valedictorian at her high school and is headed to Harvard University in the Fall!

Photo Credit: Onovu Otitigbe/People Magazine

The 18-year-old, will graduate Albany High School as the first Black valedictorian in the school’s 152-year history. Her perfect GPA with a mix of impressive extra curricular activities paved the way for Onovu to become a Harvard student, with her eyes set on studying biomedical engineering and neuroscience to prep her for a pre-med track.


“I had a very strong foundation [growing up] of watching Black men and women who were academically excellent succeed in whatever field they were passionate about,” Onovu told People Magazine in a recent interview. “So I never had a question in my mind that it was possible for me.”

Photo Credit: Onovu Otitigbe/People Magazine

The teen continued in the interview, “An image really does speak realities into existence. Going to Harvard after 12 years of school sometimes feels like an out-of-body experience. But I think it’s really important to develop a mindset early on that whatever you want to achieve, it’s possible. …with the right support systems and the right positivity, it’s definitely possible. There’s no dream too big.”

Onovu unquestionably has the right support system, her mother, Jessica Otitigbe, who is also a Albany High School alum. Otitigbe noticed her daughter’s passion for learning and helped her nurture it.

“She was always curious,” Otitigbe told People Magazine. “As a young child, she was always asking questions, wanting to figure out how things are working.”

Photo Credit: Onovu Otitigbe/People Magazine

Although many would think that A’s came naturally to this talented scholar, surprisingly enough, they didn’t.

“I wasn’t naturally able to get 100s in classes,” she explained. “It was a lot of staying after school with a teacher to figure out what I’m not getting… and tapping into a network outside of school, like my uncle and aunts who are engineers.”

She continued, “I struggled with insecurity, especially stuff like imposter syndrome.” Onovu gives credit to the “people who believed in me” for helping her overcome those feelings and forge ahead.

Congratulations, Onovu! We have a feeling that this is just the beginning of amazing things to come!

Tiffany Silva

Tiffany Silva

Writer and Editor

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