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Texas Student Becomes Her School's First Black Valedictorian

Texas Student Becomes Her School's First Black Valedictorian

She’s also the first in the school’s district!

A Texas student is making history as the first Black valedictorian in her high school’s 20-year-history, CBS 19 reports. 

Trinity Asberry is a senior at Rusk High School in Rusk, Texas who has been working hard academically to graduate first in her class. Recently, Trinity found out that not only had she accomplished her goal, but that she might have made history as the first Black student to hold the title. 

“The first thing I did when I found out is I called all my family members, ‘hey I’m valedictorian!’ My grandma told me, ‘Hey I think you might have made history, I’ve been here a long time and I’ve never heard that happen,'” Trinity recalled.

The teen then immediately began researching the history of Rusk High, the only high school in the Rusk Independent School District, but couldn’t confirm her suspicions with any faculty or local newspapers. 

“They didn’t have the resources to tell me that information. So we checked with the NAACP and they couldn't find that information as well so we did a lot of research with community members and alumni from Rush HS,” Trinity explained. 

It took a little bit of digging but she was eventually able to confirm with the Board of Educators and other sources that she was in fact, the first Black valedictorian at Rush High, something she and her father, George Andrew Asberry, said they were very excited about.

“That feeling was like wow you’re special, I mean you’re the first in Rusk…that’s history. I’m so proud of her and I probably tell her a [hundred] times,” said Asberry. 

(l to r) Trinity w/Mom and Dad. Photos Courtesy of Trinity Asberry/CBS 19

The proud papa said a lot of his daughter’s motivation comes from her late mother, who passed when Trinity was just in elementary school. It was her mother’s foundation that set the tone for Trinity and when she passed, he did his best to maintain it. 

“When Trinity lost her mom, I thought that the best thing I could do was make her situation comfortable and that’s what I did. I made her first priority, I put my personal life in the back burner and made sure she had everything she needed. She had me, her grandmother, her aunt, and her teachers - all of those people were instrumental for helping her to get where she is,” Asberry said. 

Trinity agreed with her dad, crediting many of her teachers with helping her get through her rough times and keeping her focused on her studies. 

“Mrs. Turlington was my third grade teacher and the first teacher I had after my mom passed. She was actually a teacher who also taught my mom so having her was actually very special. Ms. Taylor was a really outgoing and bubbly teacher where you could express yourself in a safe place. You could talk about anything and she listened and helped you. And Dr. Hawkins, he was the first Black teacher I’ve had and that was very special because it was the first time I was in a classroom in which someone looked like me,” said Trinity. 

Hawkins, an Anatomy and Physiology Dual Credit teacher said Trinity has used her challenges as motivation and is really blazing a trail for other students of color in the region. 

“I think losing her mom has motivated Trinity at a young age. It has helped her reach the stars to make her mom proud. Truly a historical moment that needs to be celebrated. I think for minority students to see this historical moment happen will help motivate them to succeed academically if they put their minds and put in the work, they can also accomplish this,” Dr. Hawkins said. 

Trinity has been getting a lot of well wishes, as well as students and parents who want her to serve as a mentor for their children. She plans to pursue her education at Texas Southern University to enroll in their pre-nursing program with the hopes of transferring to the University of Houston after two years where she will complete her bachelor’s in nursing. After that she plans to attend medical school or begin her career in cosmetic nursing. No matter what she decides, Trinity knows that she’ll be able to conquer it all and that she will always have her dad and her family by her side.

“I feel like moving forward in my future I'll know that whatever comes my way I’ll be able to take it on because I’ve done so much under the circumstances already. And I know that I’ll have help, that my family will be there if I run into something that I can’t take on myself,” she said. 

Congratulations, Trinity! The sky isn’t the limit anymore!

Photo Courtesy of Trinity Asberry/CBS 19