TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)— Terre Haute South celebrated a history achievement on Friday as the school named the second Black valedictorian in its history.
Nevaeh Shouse received the distinction with a special guest in attendance, as Terri Hord Owens, who graduated in 1978 as the school’s first Black valedictorian, honored the soon-to-be graduate during the ceremony.
Hord Owens said she was contacted by the school and quickly made arrangements to return to her hometown for the ceremony.
“I’m just honored to be able to come back and help to celebrate this young woman and say to this school and this community how important it is that we celebrate and encourage and provide resources to students of all races and backgrounds,” Hord Owens said.
Shouse was overcome with emotion during the ceremony, which caught her by surprise.
“I didn’t know this was going to happen,” Shouse said. “I’m so honored and so thrilled.”
Shouse said she believes this accomplishment wouldn’t of been possible without the work of generations before her– and she hopes to contribute to future generations herself.
“Since 1978, that’s such a long time. That honestly makes me feel like my story begins with sacrifices from somebody else’s chapter, it’s amazing,” she said. “I hope that just like she paved the way for me I can pave the way for other Black youth, other Black women.”
“We’ve got more work to do for sure. There’s got to be more of us up there. That’s the goal.”
Hord Owens said she exchanged contact information with Shouse and hopes to stay in touch as the 2022 graduate attends Indiana State University in the fall.
Most importantly, she wants Shouse to realize the significance her achievement has in this community, one that Hord Owens has deep ties to.
“I think it’s so important that you see other people who not only look like you but share similar backgrounds,” Hord Owens said. “I’m not just some Black woman from Chicago, I’m a Black woman who grew up right here in Terre Haute, Indiana, was born and raised here like she has been