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Sebastian River High senior becomes first African-American valedictorian

Jayden Hughes is valedictorian of class of 2022
Posted at 5:56 PM, Apr 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-04 20:00:10-04

SEBASTIAN FLA. — Every year, WPTV is proud to salute this area’s "brightest and best," celebrating the outstanding achievements of our high school seniors.

The valedictorian of the class of 2022 in Sebastian is breaking new ground.

Jayden Hughes has always asked questions.

"I've always been curious about learning and the world in general," he said.

It's that inquisitive nature that has helped him go places.

"Seeing things from different viewpoints and different perspectives helps me make judgments better and helps me be a better thinker," said Hughes.

This Sebastian River High School senior is the 2022 valedictorian.

He’s also the first African American to achieve that milestone in the school's nearly 30-year history.

The former principal let Hughes' dad know back when his son was a sophomore that he had a chance to be an academic star.

“Whenever I found out I would be the first African-American to get it, that truly amped up my ambitions,” said Hughes.

Hughes' mom, an immigrant from Colombia, also attended Sebastian River High School.

His dad is a Vero Beach High graduate.

"They definitely instilled their drive for hard work, determination will always come through," said Hughes.

Jaime Sturgeon, the Coordinator of the International Baccalaureate program at Sebastian River, knew Hughes was going to do great things.

"He was driven but he was kind and helpful. The kids love him, he's a great, great young man," said Sturgeon.

A young man not afraid to serve as a mentor to future students.

"I do feel I can be someone who others look towards and someone who others can follow in that path," said Hughes.

As for his future, Hughes is deciding whether to attend Duke University or the University of Florida in the fall.