Two TSU graduates overcome obstacles to become Salutatorian and Valedictorian

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Among an excited group of Texas Southern University graduates are two exceptional young people, who had quite the journey to cross the stage.

Divonte Lumpkin, 22, grew up on the south side of Chicago.

"I knew it was something that I wanted to do, but being from the community that I was from, it's not something that's likely to happen, so, I worked hard to accomplish the goal. It's actually a dream come true."

Lumpkin, an accounting major, transferred from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The basketball standout is now Salutatorian of his class, graduating with a 3.97 GPA.

"To be be honest, I have *a* no excuse policy," said Lumpkin. "When I did have free time, I was always doing work. When I wasn't doing work, I was playing basketball, so, for the majority of the time, I just stay focused and stayed on course."

Lumpkin has already landed a job in his hometown of Chicago with Deloitte.

In addition to Lumpkin, Annabell Awazi came to Houston from Cameroon, Central Africa in the spring of 2015, with a suitcase and a dream of becoming a doctor.

"It was stressful, but I had to cope," she said. "I had to find strategies to make me fit in the system."

Just four years later, Awazi is the Valedictorian of her class, graduating with a degree in biology pre-health.

Back home in Africa, little girls want to be just like her.

"They are so happy. My grandmother didn't know the meaning of a Valedictorian so I had to explain to her that I had the highest GPA and she was like 'Oh I know you do because you've always wanted to be first back home when you're going to school. And you never like to be second.'"

Now, Awazi plans to head off to medical school.
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