Seeing a friend honored as valedictorian at their middle school graduation, Brittany Washum-Bennett vowed that in four years the accolade would be hers.
“I’m like, yeah, that’s going to be me,” Brittany, 17, recalled recently. “I’m going to start high school, and I’m going to be valedictorian.
That competitive impulse set her path, but she could not have foreseen the challenges ahead.
Just months later, on Sept. 28, 2010, Brittany’s half-brother, Levaughn Washum-Garrison, was gunned down — along with his friend Simba Martin, Martin’s girlfriend, Eyanna Flonory, and her 2-year-old son, Amani Smith — in the brutal killings that came to be known as the Mattapan massacre.
That Brittany succeeded in graduating Friday as valedictorian of Match Public Charter High School — that she graduated at all, in circumstances that could have caused her to give up her dreams — is a testament to her belief in her father’s mantra, “Hard work pays off”; to her strong will; and to the support of family and educators.
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