Valedictorian Amali: the force is with you!
A young woman who admitted she once dreaded the thought of university has graduated at the top of her class.
Amali Smith, 22, also shared the title of valedictorian with her best friend after four years at Wilberforce University in Ohio.
She said: “It was a good feeling to be able to share that with one of my closest friends.”
“We both just pushed each other throughout our schooling.
But she added: “It was never really a competition — we just hoped for the best for each other.”
Ms Smith, from Pembroke, said that she at first did not plan to attend university because she thought she was not ready.
But she added that she changed her mind after she was accepted into Wilberforce University, the first black private university in the US, through its basketball programme.
Ms Smith, who studied sociology, said: “I got recruited in December 2015 by the head coach of Wilberforce University at the time.
“I wasn't really looking for anything and that was the first thing that came to me, so I just accepted it and the rest is history.”
Ms Smith added that she juggled her responsibilities as a full-time student with her time on the university basketball team and as a residence adviser.
She said that her spot on the basketball team was the hardest to manage because it required her to practise, train and travel on a constant basis.
Ms Smith admitted it was difficult to balance her schedule, but that her desire for success drove her on.
She said: “My main motivation was graduating and just to be successful.
“Failure is not an option for me, so I always try to put my best foot forward.”
Ms Smith graduated with a 3.97 grade point average and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
She added that she would use this year to sort out her plans for the future and also aimed to complete a master's degree.