On Monday, May 17th, Nicholas Watson will have the honor of speaking to his fellow classmates as Valedictorian of Arkansas High School. This year, while playing four sports, he maintained a 4.8 GPA, was accepted into 45 different Universities across the U.S., and received over $1.5 million dollars of scholarship offers. While he is proud of his accomplishments, getting to this level of success wasn’t easy.
“When he was 6 years old we were told he had ADHD, a central auditory processing disorder, and a speech delay. His first sentence was I go bathroom,” says mother Marian Watson. “I didn’t want to believe any of that at first. So, we made it our mission to ensure that we did everything we could to help him be successful and to prove everyone wrong. We had lots of therapy appointments, lots of research on our own part and a lot of digging and prayer that got us here today, and we are forever grateful for the support of St. James School and the Texarkana Arkansas School District who worked with Nicholas, meeting his needs, providing him with resources and allowing him to be a team player while focusing on his academics. Without everyones support he wouldn’t be here today,” says Marian Watson.
Nicholas spent his senior year playing four different sports and working diligently to maintain his grades. With all of his hard work, he has already earned over 64 college credit hours that will transfer to Harding University this fall. He plans to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. “My favorite subjects in school have always been math first and science second. I went online to really look at what jobs I could do with those degrees and I found electrical engineering job positions that I thought I would really enjoy. So for now, I will be pursing that degree when I begin this fall,” says Nicholas Watson. “As a young black man, I know what society thinks of others like me. That we sell drugs, that we don’t want to be successful and that we all fit this stereotype. I want others to look at me and my accomplishments and see something different. I am not the stereotype. I am greater than that,” says Nicholas.
While Nicholas received offers from 45 different Universities, he will be attending Harding University this Fall and will also be playing for their Basketball Team. “When he stepped on campus, had a chance to play with the basketball team, learned the Christian values of the campus and the Christian values that the Coach had, he looked at me and said, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be,'” said Marian. “He wanted the opportunity to be at a University with a strong basketball team, but also a strong academic setting and this school will provide that for him. His coach has already been so supportive of him, and we couldn’t ask for anything more,” says Marian.
“I want to leave my fellow classmates with the message that it doesn’t matter what anyone else says about you, or what they think. All that matters is that you work hard and strive to do your best. Whatever goal you have, just strive for it, even when people around you think you will fail,” says Nicholas. “When I began my sports journey, I always used the hashtag #morethanasport, because I wanted others to know that my accomplishments were my own. My teachers didn’t give me the grades to keep playing, I earned them. I think it’s important to know that as a student athlete and an academic, that many of us earn it all on our own, and with the support of my teachers and coaches I was able to make it this far,” says Nicholas.
Nicholas will present his Valedictorian speech on Monday, May 17th to the rest of his graduating class, and in June will make his way to Harding University to begin playing with his new team.