After watching her sister become the first Black female to be named valedictorian at Deptford High School, Nalia Abney knew that she could get there herself.
Abney fought her way through an unprecedented school year, and while she didn’t reach her goal — she was named salutatorian instead — Abney remains grateful.
“I was really striving to be the second in history, but I’m really grateful that I was able to earn salutatorian,” she said.
Both of her parents went to private school, so a decision had to be made between going that route or creating her own path at Deptford High School. Abney chose the latter.
“I’m glad that I made the decision that I made,” she said.
Like her sister, who is three years older, the Class of 2021’s salutatorian has always gone to Deptford schools, but those aren’t the only parallels. Both Abney and her sister were in the engineering academy at the high school, and both are furthering their educations in science. While her sister is off to Stanford to pursue her Ph.D. in bio-engineering, Abney is headed to Boston University for neuroscience on the pre-med track. She plans to attend medical school right after that.
“I really think that there is a need for more Black doctors, especially female Black doctors in all specialties,” Abney noted. “I really want to help bridge that gap.”
As for clubs, Abney participated in quite a few. She managed bowling, ran winter track, and was class president. She also played varsity tennis all four years of high school. Working out is one of Abney’s hobbies.
“With soccer and tennis, I’ve always loved working out because being active has been a big part of my life since I can remember,” she explained.
The standout student, who played soccer in the lower grades but had to quit after her fourth concussion, is also an avid reader.
Abney admitted she will miss the people at Deptford High.
“I love my classmates, but I have such a strong connection with some of my teachers and some of the people in guidance,” she said. “ I truly feel like my experience in high school would not have been the same without them.”
Abney has won various awards since graduation, including the Class of 2012 memorial award, given to a student who demonstrates kindness in interactions with other students and teachers, and a $250 William W. Bain Jr. Award for educational excellence.