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Nicholas Johnson

Source: Lisa Festa, Center for Career Development / Nicholas Johnson/Princeton

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s still some good news to celebrate, and this time it involves an excelling black Ivy Leaguer. Nicholas Johnson has been named Princeton’s First Black Valedictorian in the institution’s 274-year history.

Princeton announced the news via press release and said that Johnson and salutatorian Grace Sommers will participate in their virtual commencement on Sunday, May 31. The University will hold a belated in-person commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 next spring in May 2021 pending the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson who hails from Montreal studied operations research and financial engineering and enjoyed several international internships and cultural immersion trips to Peru, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom. As a rising senior, Johnson worked as a software engineer in machine learning at Google’s California headquarters.

This clearly very bright gentleman still made time to socialize outside of academics, and he told Princeton that the highlight of his matriculation was making memories with friends.

“My favorite memories of my time at Princeton are memories of time spent with close friends and classmates engaging in stimulating discussions — often late at night — about our beliefs, the cultures and environments in which we were raised, the state of the world, and how we plan on contributing positively to it in our own unique way,” Johnson said.

Johnson plans to spend this summer interning as a hybrid quantitative researcher and software developer at the D. E. Shaw Group before beginning Ph.D. studies in operations research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2020.

His senior thesis titled “Sequential Stochastic Network Structure Optimization with Applications to Addressing Canada’s Obesity Epidemic,” focused on “developing high-performance, efficient algorithms to solve a network-based optimization problem that models a community-based preventative health intervention designed to curb the prevalence of obesity in Canada,” said Princeton in a statement.

We have absolutely NO IDEA what that means, but it for sure sounds like this young brotha has a brilliant mind!


Congrats on making history!


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