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Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education

Valedictorian and Salutatorian  

  • Spelman Class of 2021 Valedictorian Osarugue Otebele

    Spelman Valedictorian for Class of 2021 Otebele OsarugueOsarugue Otebele was born in Benin City, Edo state Nigeria, and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. She was drawn to Spelman after having a conversation with an alumna and fellow English major at an HBCU college fair. With a strong belief in the universe sending her signs about her future, she knew Spelman was the place for her after seeing the same alum at three different events.

    On one occasion, when she asked, “What was the hardest part of being an English major at Spelman?” The alum answered, “Not hard. Life is hard. Spelman was challenging.” During her time at Spelman, Osarugue took on this challenge. Although graduating a year early, she spent all three years on the Dean’s List, was a student in the Ethel Waddell Githii Honors program, and as a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society, and Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society.  Osarugue was invited to join Phi Beta Kappa in her senior year.

    In addition, she worked as a tutor in the Writing Center and was an active member of the AUC African Student Association, a Social Justice Associate, and an archivist for The Record and For the Record Podcast. At Spelman she developed a love for studying film, and her passion for Nigerian cinema led her to research programs at Columbia University, Emory University, and the University of Chicago, where she developed her intellectual curiosities on Nollywood.

    Osarugue is a UNCF Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow, and after graduating she will continue her studies at the University of California Berkeley, pursuing a fully-funded Ph.D. in Film and Media Studies.

  • Spelman Class of 2021 Salutatorian Kiara Mahoney

    Spelman Salutatorian Kiara Mahoney Kiara Mahoney, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, was drawn to Spelman College’s empowerment of sisterhood and how it provides a strong foundation for educational leaders to serve and change the world. She is grateful for her mentors, professors and family who supported her two-year experience at Spelman College since 2019.

    During her time at Spelman, Mahoney became a mentor to elementary school students by being an active member of Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service (SKIRTS). She believes that as a Black educator she must teach from the heart with a passion and purpose to help all students reach their highest academic and personal potential.

    As a junior and senior, she served as a proud member of the Georgia Association of Education. She was inducted into the "Sweet" Mu Pi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as a senior. Mahoney received a scholarship award from the Renade Family Finish Line for the fall of 2020 academic year, and aspires to work in an elementary school setting in her local community.

    After graduation, she will continue to teach as a teacher fellow for the Atlanta Urban Teacher Residency Program while pursuing a masters degree in education.