Nigerian Tobechukwu “Tobi” Phillips just broke a barrier as the first Black valedictorian in Alvin High School’s 125 year history in the Texas high school which was first established in 1894 and integrated with African-American students in 1965.
According to Botwc, Phillips earned a 6.9 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale, placing her at the top of her class. She only took AP courses aside from her electives and earned all A’s all four years in the courses. Out of a school with approximately 2,800 students only 86 are Black students.
“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 told Because of Them We Can.
The high school senior received the Full-Ride Forty Acre Scholarship to attend the University of Texas at Austin. It is the most prestigious scholarship that UT offers. Out of 4,000 students, only 16 were chosen.
“She is an excellent student from a loving family,” her track coach Jennipher McGraw said.
Phillips has dealt with her fair share of challenges and scrutiny from her peers, however she has prevailed and has a message for other students like her.
“My biggest advice to other scholars of color 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.”
In addition to her academic studies Phillips is a decorated volleyball and track athlete. She is also a Sunday school teacher, a member of the Rho Kappa Honor Society, president of the National Honor Society and an AP ambassador.
Phillips will attend the Nursing School at UT in the fall. Her plan is to one day own her own clinic as a pediatric nurse practitioner.