Before soaring up the charts with four platinum albums, a 16-year-old Alicia Keys was valedictorian of the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City. Keys, like many others high school students, worked hard to become a leader of her class.
Students across the country vie for the top honor of valedictorian, and as the Illinois Valedictorian Project shows, student achievement at such a high level can lead to success. The Illinois Valedictorian Project was a program that followed 81 high-achieving high school valedictorians for 10 years after graduation. A report on the project found that valedictorians were highly successful undergraduate students. On average, they earned a 3.6 GPA, and many achieved scholastic honors. The report also notes that "of those completing graduate study, more than half were employed in science, math, engineering, and business careers." A quarter of the valedictorians who took part in the study were at the top professional levels for their age.
While not all these famous figures chose a career in business or engineering, they have made their mark on the world in a big way. Click through the gallery to see which 10 celebrities were chosen by their schools—whether it be their high school or graduate school—to be class valedictorian.
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