BLACK VOICES
06/19/2014 12:50 pm ET

Queens Student, Shanelle Davis, Becomes School's First African-American Valedictorian

Courtesy Milken Family Foundation

It's one thing to read about black history in high school, it's a whole other thing to become black history at your very own high school, and that's just what one student has done.

Shanelle Davis was announced the 2014 class valedictorian out of the 845 students in the graduating class at Benjamin Cardozo High School. She’s made history as the first African-American to do so at the Bayside, New York school.

The teen, who lives in Queens, was surprised to hear the good news when the class rankings came out and the administration told her that a black student had never been first in their class at the school before.

“It’s an incredible honor. It’s still surreal to me.”

Davis' story is the latest among a number of inspiring stories about students who have defied odds and managed to achieve similar feats.

The Milken Scholar will not only be the first in her family to attend a four-year university, she has also accepted a full ride to Harvard University. Davis hopes to inspire future African-American seniors at her school to add more black students' names to the list.

“I can be an example for them... So maybe next year they’ll have another African-American one.”

[h/t: CBS New York]

  • Julie Andrews
    Getty Images
    "Use your knowledge, and your heart, to stand up for those who can't stand, speak for those who can't speak, be a beacon of light for those whose lives have become dark."
  • Maya Angelou
    AP
    "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."
  • George W. Bush
    Getty Images
    "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States."
  • Judy Garland
    MGM
    "Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
  • Horace, Roman poet
    Wikimedia Commons
    "Carpe diem." (Seize the day.)
  • Steve Jobs
    DAPD
    "Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice."
  • Rachel Maddow
    YouTube
    "After we graduate tonight, we no longer have to let society happen to us. We get to create our own."
  • Olivia Newton-John
    Getty Images
    "I don't know what my path is yet. I'm just walking on it."
  • Barack Obama
    Getty Images
    "Because as tough as things have been, I am convinced you are tougher. I’ve seen your passion and I’ve seen your service ... I’ve seen a generation eager — impatient even — to step into the rushing waters of history and change its course."
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
    Getty Images
    "Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life."
  • J.K. Rowling
    AFP
    "We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."
  • Homer Simpson
    Fox via Getty Images
    "The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number one: cover for me. Number two: oh, good idea, boss! Number three: it was like that when I got here."
  • Mother Teresa
    PA
    "Don't look for big things, just do small things with great love. ...The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love."
  • Oscar Wilde
    Wikimedia Commons
    "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
  • Yoda
    Lucasfilm
    "Do or do not. There is no try."

CONVERSATIONS