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Riverview High School sees second Black Valedictorian in 22 years

DeAndrea Daughtry hopes to become a radiologist
Posted at 10:31 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:26:10-04

RIVERVIEW, Fla. — For a masterclass on hard work and manifestation, you can look no further than 18-year-old DeAndrea Daughtry.

"I'm still shocked today that six years ago I made this goal and it's panning out now," she said.

Her 6th-grade goal of being her high school valedictorian was confirmed by Riverview High School officials last month. She even put it on her vision board.

DeAndrea Daughtry's vision board

"I felt proud of myself because I finally reached that satisfaction of being number one," she said.

Her mother, Tracy Smack, said DeAndrea has always been a star student.

"Since Elementary [school she] always brought home straight A's, so when she got into high school and started talking about it, you know 'Hey, I could be Valedictorian' and we actually started seeing the transcripts come in regularly it was like one of those things where we were like 'Hey we're going to do this. We're going to get this,'" she said.

The soon-to-be high school grad is leaving with an 8.42 GPA, her associate's degree, and a pretty accomplished baking hobby that she picked up during the pandemic.

"I'm not much of a cake person, but cookies have definitely been one of my top [desserts]," DeAndrea said laughing.

According to the Hillsborough County Public School District, DeAndrea is also the school's second Black valedictorian in 22 years.

DeAndrea Daughtry, Riverview High School's second Black Valedictorian

"Things are still possible, we're still doing groundbreaking things every day and it's possible," she said.

It's a fact that's not lost on her as she prepares for medical school. She hasn't picked her next college or university yet, but she does hope to soon. And she told ABC Action News that when she's done, she hopes to become a radiologist.

"The medical imaging is like the first steps to diagnosis. I feel like if you can do that, you can begin their steps to treatment," she said.

Though, right now she's got another more immediate goal — writing her speech before she walks across that stage.

"It still hasn't really sunk in, I don't think it will sink in until graduation day but hopefully I can adjust before then," DeAndrea said laughing again.

And as she looks ahead to the future, the teen wants to leave a message for those coming behind her.

"I definitely say have a goal and don't let that goal overcome the experience. I feel like it's important to experience high school and to have a balance between education and the fun," said DeAndrea.

And her mom leaves this message for her.

"Whatever it is that she wants to do, as long as she's being the best person that she can be for herself as well as others, I have no doubt that DeAndrea is going places. I am 100% sure that she is going to be a trailblazer," said Smack.