A young lady named Tera Poole has broken the 176-year-old record of the University of Maryland emerging as the institution’s first-ever black valedictorian.
Tera Poole made history as the first-ever black person to be made a valedictorian at the University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry since the inception of the university in the year 1840.
Tera also made history as the first-ever black valedictorian in the first dental college in the world. She mentioned in a celebratory post on her Instagram that the Univesity of Maryland’s School of Dentistry was established 76 years ago before slavery was abolished in the U.S.
She graduated the college with distinction. (Summa Cum Laude). ”The tears just keep coming!! Officially the FIRST black valedictorian of the world’s FIRST dental school.
University of Maryland’s School of Dentistry was chartered in 1840, 25 years before slavery was abolished in the U.S.,” she said.
Tera served as her class president for four years, maintaining honors grades, and a few moments before her graduation, she found out she was the valedictorian of a class of 130 graduating students.
She mentioned that she knew she was among the top five but never imagined she would take the top spot in her class. Tera said that it was two days after her graduation that she discovered she had also made world history graduating as the first Black Valedictorian.
“Everything, even being valedictorian was a surprise to me,” Poole said. She expressed joy and gratitude about achieving the feat stating that it is the wildest dream of her ancestors.
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”I have been able to make black history by graduating Summa Cum Laude at a place when it was founded, I would not have even been able to attend,” she said.
Tera mentioned that her support system was nine other students who studied together and offered emotional support to one another regarding issues event outside the scope of academics.
“Sticking together, we knew that we were in this together, that if there were any hardships, we were always there for each other,” Tera said.
“When it came to studying for classes, we’d study together in the library. If it came to things outside of school that we were having hardships with, we always made sure we were there and speaking with each other,” she added.
After graduation, she went on to specialize in orthodontics at a three-year residency program at the University of California San Francisco and now runs her private practice in her hometown Cincinnati, Ohio.
Tera encourages anyone who wants to venture into healthcare, especially people of color with dreams of specializing to go for it and see her success as a motivation.