Wearing a bright graduation gown and a rainbow-striped cap, trans teen and activist Jazz Jennings graduated from high school as the valedictorian of her class.
Instead of spending her final year cooped up in classrooms at a traditional high school, the South Florida reality star completed her degree at Broward Virtual School. However, in addressing her fellow class of 2019 graduates, Jennings attributes this non-traditional education as the key to her success — and her “life saver.”
“At traditional high school, I had set the goal of trying to be valedictorian. It caused me to put a mental pressure on myself to be academically perfect and be number 1,” Jennings said in a Instagram post featuring the highlights of her graduation ceremony.
“Ultimately I came to the realization that becoming valedictorian was merely a goal— an outcome. It was all about the destination rather than the journey. It was preventing me from being present and enjoying the day-to-day experience of life.”
However, the I Am Jazz star says that going to a virtual school allowed her and other Broward students to “listen to our inner voice ad follow our personal happiness.”
“In this world of conformity in which people often alter themselves in order to fit in, we all deliberately chose to take part in an unconventional method of learning that most people don’t understand,”Jennings told her graduating class.
While Jennings admitted she didn’t know many of her fellow graduates, she says the one thing that ties them together is “that we are all different.”
“All of us are unique in that we decided ourselves to walk an unpaved path,” Jennings said proudly wearing her rainbow cap inspired by the LGBTQ flag. “We’ve all realized this and can be proud of ourselves for that.”
The principal of Broward Virtual School, Christopher McGuire, said he was “proud to honor Jazz Jennings as Broward Virtual School’s Class of 2019 Valedictorian,” and wishes her all the best in the next chapter of her life: college at Harvard University.
“She delivered an inspiring and reflective valedictory address to her classmates at our commencement ceremony. Jazz is not only a top scholar, she’s an amazing human being,” McGuire told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Equally as impressive is the support and love Jazz’s family provides her. It was a privilege to have Jazz enroll at our school.”
Jennings’ proud mother, Jeanette, took to Twitter to congratulate her “Harvarrd bound valedictorian,” posting pictures of the trans teen speaking at her graduation— but her mother wasn’t the only one. Laverne Cox took to social media to congratulate her fellow trans activist, congratulating Jennings for completing this important milestone.
“This is spectacularly amazing. Congrats Ms. Valedictorian,” Cox commented on Jennings Instagram post.
As one final parting note, Jennings encouraged her fellow Broward graduates with an inspiring piece of advice: “Follow your dreams, pursue your passions and always listen to the inner voice within you.”
Jennings added, “Never lose sight of who you are, today, tomorrow and eternally.”
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