Local teen becomes first Black valedictorian at Albany High School


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A local student is making history, becoming the first African American being top of her class.

Albany High School senior Onovughakpor Otitigbe-Dangerfield was named this year’s valedictorian, the first African American to achieve that honor in the school’s 152-year history. “It was something I was looking forward to but I wasn’t guaranteed so it’s really nice I got to have this honor,” says Onovughakpor.

The 17-year-old is a scholar, musician, athlete and a leader. She’s president of the robotics team, sings in the select choir, and is the editor-in-chief of the online school newspaper. She knows the perfect balance of work and play. “I try to keep busy,” says adds.

Friends and family call her Onovu. She is a hard-working spirit. She always wanted to get involved and shoot for the stars ever since she was a little girl. “I always wanted to make sure that I was meeting the highest level of expectation I could set for myself so I could never say if I didn’t get something it wasn’t because I didn’t work hard enough.”

Onovu says doing senior year in a global health pandemic was a challenge, but she didn’t let that define her. “It taught me about time management and to take initiative for my work because it’s very easy to to fall behind with virtual learning and be more accountable than I think you would in a normal classroom.”

Onovu will leave her mark in Albany. She graduates from Albany High School in June and in a few months she’ll be off to college going to one of world’s greatest institutions. Which one? We don’t know that yet, but the scholar was accepted to Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and Johns Hopkins to name a few. She applied to over 20 colleges. “I chose based on being able to pursue my things inside and outside the classroom. [I am] looking for places that encourage you to think liberally or holistically, because I think that’s really important developing perspective for whatever job you decide to have.”

Onovu plans to double-major in neuroscience and biomedical engineering. She wants the younger minds to know regardless race and ethnicity, anything is possible when you set goals. “Pursue what you love, hard work pays off and it’s important to know we all have the power to be inspirational and make people feel something by doing that.”

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