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Class of 2022 Valedictorian: Asja Woodard

May 2022

Spelman College Valedictorian Asja WoodardOn May 15, 2022, Asja Woodard will receive recognition as one of five valedictorians of the graduating class of 2022. This will not be the first time she will receive recognition for her excellence as a student. She also graduated as valedictorian of her high school class in Omaha, Nebraska. However, it will be the first time her achievement as a student will be content for a national story about five students at Spelman, a historically Black college for women that inspires students to achieve, even during a national pandemic.

"Being one of Spelman’s historic five co-valedictorians is a surreal feeling," said Woodard. It was not a goal she set for herself when she was admitted to Spelman. In fact, it was not until Woodard had completed her first year of college that she believed she could perform at the level of excellence being a valedictorian requires. She reached that goal not only because her professors demanded excellence, but also because the Spelman culture supports student achievement.  

For Woodard, learning at Spelman meant having access to labs, group learning sessions, and conferences with faculty who care about students' needs. Returning to  Spelman after eighteen months of separation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, although cause for celebration, was, in some ways, a difficult reality for both faculty and students. It was a difficult reality for Woodard because she missed conferences with professors, group meetings with her peers, and bonding with friends who, having graduated, were no longer present in the community. But Woodard developed friendships with new students who would become her new Spelman sisters.  

She will begin medical school at Vanderbilt University in fall 2022 with a full-tuition scholarship made possible through the Spelman-VSUSM Pipeline Program. The scholarship is evidence of the learning, counseling, and excellence students receive when they enter the Spelman gates.   

Woodard advises all incoming first-year students . . .

blue-quote-leftDo not to fixate on anyone’s journey, except your own. Keep your goal in mind andblue-quote-right be open to seeing different paths to reach the same goal.

For Woodard, "Spelman will forever have a special place in my heart because it transformed me. I am not the girl I was when I entered, but I am proud of the woman I have become – with Spelman’s help.  

During her studies at Spelman, Woodard was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Kappa Chi, and Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Societies. She worked as a tutor in Mathematics Lab, medical microbiology, and Mammalian physiology and, in 2021-2022, she served as president of the Health Careers Club.

She also participated in various programs that enhance skills needed for success in medical schools. They include conducting research for two summers in the Spelman-Vanderbilt program and participating in the American Heart Association HBCU Scholars Program in which she conducted research at the Emory University School of Medicine.  

In addition to her research experiences, Woodard was featured as a panelist for the AHA Health Justice Roundtable and as a panelist for Pipeline to Equity: Black/Latino Students Speak at the SXSW EDU Conference. For three years, she conducted research at the Emory University School of Medicine and was a member of the Health Careers Opportunity and Pipeline Preparation Program.  

For her many achievements, Woodard gives thanks the College for transforming her from “the girl I was” when I entered Spelman to the woman I have become 
because of Spelman.