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Senior Valaine Clarke Receives Full Athletic Scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana

Valaine Clarke, a member of the Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Class of 2021, recently received a full athletic scholarship to Xavier University of Louisiana. On Friday, March 5, the Mount Vernon City School District held a ceremonial signing where Clarke committed to play as part of the university’s women’s tennis program.

“We are delighted to see Valaine enter this exciting next chapter of life,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton. “While a student here in Mount Vernon, Valaine has demonstrated enormous talent both on and off the tennis courts. She exemplifies the term student athlete, and I know she will continue on a path of excellence as a student at Xavier University of Louisiana.”

The scholarship, or athletic in-grant aid, covers expenses related to tuition, mandatory fees, book allowance, and housing costs beginning in the fall of 2021. While a student at Xavier University of Louisiana, Clarke plans to pursue a degree in political science, with aspirations of attending law school and becoming a defense attorney to help people of color fight the injustices they face today.

Xavier University of Louisiana is a historically black college in New Orleans. Clarke initiated the relationship between herself and the university; she was compelled by its athletic standing, currently number three in the nation for National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) women’s tennis, as well as its rigorous academic standards.

“I hope that I can do my part to help Xavier University of Louisiana maintain its standing as number three in the nation, or help bring it to the number one spot,” said Clarke. “I love tennis because there’s always a challenge when I step onto the court -- both physically and mentally.”

Clarke began playing tennis at the age of five, and has been a member of the Mount Vernon City School District’s varsity women’s tennis team for three years. She is the second in her family to play tennis at the collegiate level. Her sister, Katasha Jarvis, a 2015 Nellie A. Thornton High School graduate, was scouted by Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts and played as part of the college’s women’s tennis team for her entire undergraduate career.

In addition to her athletic achievements, Clarke is expected to graduate as part of the top ten percent of the senior class with a 91.73 GPA. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, the Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Math Team, former Student Council Secretary, and student volunteer at the Mount Vernon City Library.

“Valaine is a wonderful student and an extremely gifted athlete. Throughout her high school career, she has maintained high academic excellence, while competing locally and nationally.   I am overjoyed to see Xavier University recognize the talent and academic potential in her that those of us who have had the privilege of knowing her have come to see as well,” said Mount Vernon STEAM Academy Principal Sharon Bradley.  “Valaine exemplifies the qualities of a high performing student athlete, achieving success in the classroom and on the court.  We wish her nothing but the best in her collegiate endeavors!”

The Mount Vernon STEAM Academy opened in 2018. One of the District’s three high schools of choice, the STEAM Academy provides an approach to teaching and learning that integrates the content and skills of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. The school actively engages students in a collaborative learning environment, while infusing an integrated STEAM-centered curriculum in their studies through project-based learning. These behaviors include engagement in inquiry, logical reasoning, collaboration, and investigation.