On May 16, Katie Washington, a Biology major with a minor in Catholic Social Teaching, will make history at the University of Notre Dame as the institution’s first Black valedictorian delivering the school’s commencement speech. The 21-year-old Gary, Indiana, native, has maintained a 4.0 grade point average throughout her college years. She has been accepted to five schools, but plans to pursue a joint Master’s Degree and Ph.D., at Johns Hopkins University. This news comes at a time when President Obama has vowed to close the science, math and technology gap that exists between Americans and other countries. On November 23, 2009, Obama launched “Educate to Innovate,” a nationwide program to help move American students to the top of the pack in science and math fields over the next decade. The President explains, “Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century.” Washington has conducted research on lung cancer at the Cold Spring Harbor labs and performed genetic studies in the University’s Eck Institute for Global Health. She is the co-author of a research paper with professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, David Severson. When she’s not studying biology, Washington directs the Voices of Faith Gospel Choir at Notre Dame, is a mentor and tutor for the Sister-to-Sister program at South Bend’s Washington High School, and dedicates her time to an organization focused on youth violence. Related stories: