Kellin McGowan has made history at one of Houston's oldest and most prestigious institutions.
The 17-year-old was recently announced as St. Thomas High School's valedictorian, marking the first time a black student received the honor in the school's 119-year history. Several outlets report McGowan secured the title with a 4.57 GPA; he was also the secretary of the National Honor Society, a receipient of the Albert R. Gaelens Award, as well as a member of the exclusive St. Thomas Club—a club for students who maintain at least a 4.0 GPA for seven consecutive semesters.
"The guys here are really competitive academically," St. Thomas 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."
McGowan told the outlet he was surprised by the honor, but hopes his title will change people's misconceptions about race and education.
"People have these misguided notions of what it means to be African American," he said. "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 [...] You can do anything you set your mind to, and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do anything."
McGown plans to attend the University of Chicago, where he will study political science.