Tobechukwu “Tobi” Phillips is a Nigerian teenager who made history at Alvin High School in Texas.
She did this by becoming the school’s first Black valedictorian 125 years after it was established in 1894. This incredible feat takes place 54 years after the school integrated with African-American students in 1965.
According to an online platform called Because Of Them We Can, the school currently has 86 black students out of approximately 2,800 students.
Phillips graduates with a 6.9 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale, which she earned by taking AP courses along with her electives.
She got to the top of her class by getting all A’s throughout her four years in school. This is in addition to her other interests.
This exceptional teenager is also a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Rho Kappa Honor Society, president of the National Honor Society, an AP ambassador, a decorated volleyball and track athlete.
Her track coach Jennifer McGraw describes her as “an excellent student from a loving family.”
Explaining how she was able to get excellent grades and keep up with the rest of her interests, she said, “maintaining the highest GPA in my class is a difficult task. It truly takes time management but more importantly acknowledging what you do it for. I know that I am no longer just representing myself.”
Phillips also offered some advice to black students who want to excel in school.
In her words, “My biggest advice to other scholars of colour is to truly adopt the mindset of Rosa Parks - ’No.’ Do not conform to the stereotypes that have held us under thumbs for so long. Do not be discouraged when someone speaks out against you, simply allow what they say to fuel your fire. But more than anything, do not remain tight-lipped. Stand up for what you believe in and take it upon yourself to be the change you’ve always wanted. Say ‘No’ to the ways of the world and stick out.”
She has received the Full-Ride Forty Acre Scholarship to attend the Nursing School at the University of Texas in Austin. Out of 4,000 applicants, only 16 including Phillips, were chosen for this prestigious scholarship.
Her dream is to become a pediatric nurse practitioner and have her own clinic someday.