Kellin McGowan, a senior at St. Thomas High School in Houston, Texas, is breaking barriers and making history after becoming the first Black valedictorian in his school’s 119-year history.
And McGowan did it in style, securing a 4.57 GPA throughout his high school career at one of Houston’s oldest private schools, with an English teacher even calling him “God’s superhero,” according to KHOU11.
“The guys here are really competitive academically,” school principal Aaron Dominguez told KHOU11. “They support each other. They hold each other up, but they’re also vying to be the very, very best.”
Despite the hard work that he clearly put in, McGowan remains humble saying that he was “surprised” by being named valedictorian; however, he hopes that his accomplishments will also change other’s perspectives on race.
“People have these misguided notions of what it means to be African American. I believe by seeing an African American do well in an institution like this, they can see there is more to us than what they think,” he said.
With his academic achievements, McGowan is now a member of an exclusive group of students called the St. Thomas Club. In order to gain membership into the prestigious club, students have to maintain at least a 4.0 GPA for seven consecutive semesters. McGowan clearly knocked that out of the park and is now recognized as a permanent member of the club.
The teen, who is also the secretary of the National Honor Society, was the recipient of the Albert R. Gaelens Award, given to the student at the school who best exemplifies the school’s motto of “Teach Me Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge,” KTRK reports.
English teacher Darrel Yarbrough praised McGowan as a “superhero [with] a cloak of humility.”
“We don’t have to know everything – that is God’s job. And Kellin McGowan is God’s superhero,” Yarbrough added.
McGowan has big plans for his future, including attending the University of Chicago to pursue political science, with a long-term goal of going to law school to become an immigration lawyer.
“You can do anything you set your mind to, and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything,” McGowan added.