Her name is Katie Washington, and she is the first African-American valedictorian to graduate from the University of Notre Dame.
In the university’s 168-year history, there has not been an African-American valedictorian.
The 21-year-old West Side High School valedictorian from Gary, Indiana made history last May as she gave her second valedictory address to a packed Notre Dame stadium. Ms. Washington had been accepted to five top universities, including Harvard, but graduated with a 4.0 GPA in Biological Sciences from the University of Notre Dame.
Following in her physician father’s footsteps, Ms. Washington is now pursuing a joint M.D./Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education details Washington’s rise to the top of the esteemed university. And the Examiner’s Essie Nail reports on mainstream media’s curious silence about Notre Dame’s first African-American valedictorian.
In her report, Ms. Nail makes a notable and valid point: “Many are concerned that mainstream media sources have seemingly not found this event newsworthy. Conversely, headlines were enthusiastically and widely reported when a white male, Joshua Packwood, was named valedictorian at Atlanta’s Morehouse College in 2008.
Morehouse is a historically black institution and apparently this event was more historically significant. In fact, US News and World Report published as a lead-in, “a white college valedictorian is nothing to blog about, unless he went to Morehouse.“”
Below is just a small sampling of mainstream media headlines about Morehouse valedictorian Joshua Packwood:
MSNBC: “A different kind of ‘Morehouse Man‘”
ABC NEWS: “Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges”
NPR News: “Valedictorian Makes History”
Interestingly, attempts to locate anything about Katie Washington in mainstream media news outlets reveals that this African-American valedictorian is non-existant in their news archives, or relegated to small local affiliates.
Both these students have made history.
Both are to be lauded for their accomplishments.
And both make us all proud.
It is unfortunate that our mainstream news media does not appear to see it this way.
What are your thoughts about the disparity in news coverage of these two history-making valedictorians?