W-S native named valedictorian at N.C. State

Amira Watson

W-S native named valedictorian at N.C. State
May 19
13:40 2021

Amira Watson takes her education very seriously. The future dentist just graduated from N.C. State at the top of her class as valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average.

Born in Winston-Salem and raised in Kernersville, Watson is a 2017 graduate of East Forsyth. She was raised by her parents to believe that education is key, and that focus has been in her family for generations.

“It was definitely ingrained in me, I believe,” Watson said about her drive for excellence in the classroom. “I wasn’t a first gen college student. My grandfather went to Alabama State, my mother went to Winston-Salem State, and so did my dad. Education has always been super important.  

“Going to school and getting a good education with good grades has always been important in the household.”

Heading into college, Watson knew she wanted to be a dentist; it was just a matter of what her major was going to be. She decided on biological sciences due to it being something she enjoyed, as well as having all of her prerequisite courses needed for dental school.

Watson built good study habits in high school that made the transition to college level work a little easier. She says maintaining a perfect GPA was not an easy task and recalls a tough time she had her freshman year when she earned a D on a test. Because she had built such a strong foundation for years in high school, she was able to bounce back and maintain her A average.

“I was a Goodnight Scholar, which is one of two N.C. State’s full rides, so I knew that I had something to uphold in terms of GPA and academic standing, but also it was really important for me to get good grades,” she said. “I didn’t want to stop what I started in high school.

“It wasn’t always a breeze, but hard work and dedication pays off. I had study groups, good friends, and a good village while I was at N.C. State was really important to my success.”

Upon finding out she had earned the title of valedictorian, Watson stated she felt like all of her hard work had paid off.

“I was definitely excited,” she said. “They rank you after each semester and I knew that if I got all As my final semester, that I would be locked in. I knew that I could do it and a lot of my friends asked me if it was worth it and it definitely was because that was my goal coming into college.”

Watson had to also maintain her perfect average during the pandemic. She also had to endure the loss of her mother at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all of that to deal with, many students would have let their grades slip, but Watson maintained her focus and persevered through the traumatic time.

Watson was accepted into dental school in December of last year. She said many of her friends asked if she would cruise during her last semester. She chose to not relax.

“I needed to finish what I started, and I wanted to go ahead and get that win for myself and achieve that goal,” she said. “It definitely was a sigh of relief and I hope to continue a good pattern of grades when I get to dental school too. It was definitely a relief that all my hard work had paid off and that I was going to get the recognition that I wanted.”

As an African American woman, Watson felt it was more important for her to earn this distinction as valedictorian so others who look like her see that it is possible.

“I am so big on representation; representation definitely matters,” she went on to say. “You want to see people who look like you, doing the things you want to do. There’s a valedictorian of every college and major, but I’ve never known one to be Black, so that was something huge for me.  

“I felt like I was making a really huge impact on my peers and some of my friends that it could definitely be done, especially in a STEM major. That’s pretty impressive and it was a big win for me, but it really felt like a big win for everyone, because I was Black.  It made me really proud.”

Watson says she hopes she was able to inspire someone else with what she was able to accomplish. One of her goals in life has been to help others in any way she can.

“That’s my number one goal; I always want to do stuff for other people, whether that’s simple inspiration or some sort of service,” she continued. “I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. I am a fall ‘19 initiate of the Kappa Omicron chapter of N.C. State, so service is huge to me and I always want to make some sort of community impact.

“The women of Alpha Kappa Alpha have definitely had a huge impact on me, so knowing that I am a part of the organization now and that I have that impact on younger girls is something that is huge for me and makes me proud. It’s an amazing feeling and I really don’t have words for it.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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