• Hard work pays off for Quincy Upper School's first black female valedictorian

    By: Crystal Haynes

    Updated:

    BOSTON - Kamaiya Austin applied to 14 colleges and universities. She got into 11.

    Years of hard work is paying off for the valedictorian of the Josiah Quincy Upper School. 

    "A lot of sleepless nights and grit, I would say," Austin told Boston 25 News. 

    The senior is graduating with a 4.5 GPA and was named the school's first-ever black, female valedictorian.

    Plus, she was accepted to 11 colleges and universities and received more than $700,000 in scholarship and grant money. 

    "Everyday, I would open a new one, I’m like, you know, I was preparing myself for like a rejection. Then I’d open it and like (gasp) I got in," she said. 

    Austin is also graduating with college credit through the Upper School's four-year International Baccalaureate program.

    She has a busy schedule tutoring, participating in dance and managing health challenges.

    "I get sick a lot with asthma and stuff," she said. "So just working through that even when I’m not feeling my best.”

    Austin is not only going to be a first-generation college student. She'll be a first-generation high school graduate.

    "My mom, she cried. She cried a lot. After each letter she would cry," Austin said. "And when I told her I was valedictorian, she almost like, fainted.”

    She decided on Tufts University for its early childhood development program. Austin wants to be an elementary school educator. 

    "I want them to know that anything is possible and they can achieve anything they put their mind to," she said. "So just instilling that type of mindset, I think, will take them a long way.”

    Tufts University offered Austin a near-full scholarship for all four years. 

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