When Nichol Henderson stood up to be recognized as a graduate of N.C. State on Friday night, she did so knowing that, among all of the 8,251 seniors that will be honored at Carter-Finley Stadium, none of them are her equal when it comes to academics.
Henderson graduated No. 1 in her class.
“We are immensely proud of her,” Brad Henderson, Nichol’s father, said. “This is something she has worked very hard for.”
Nichol Henderson, a member of the Class of 2017 at South Iredell High School, never received a grade lower than an ‘A’ in her pursuit of a degree in animal science, finishing with an overall GPA of 4.0.
“It feels really good (to be No. 1), I’ve worked pretty hard in my classes and enjoyed every one of them,” Nichol Henderson said. “It’s nice to know my hard work has paid off and that all the work I’ve put in there has gone towards getting me into veterinarian school.”
According to her father, Nichol has expressed interest in animals and becoming a veterinarian since elementary school. To continue chasing that dream, she applied to the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine. Ranked as the No. 4 veterinary school in the country by U.S. News and World Report, the program only accepts 100 new students every year.
For the Class of 2025, Henderson was one of those selected for the prestigious school.
“She’s specifically taken jobs in the summer to help check off boxes to get into vet school,” Brad Henderson said. “She would even drive back to Mooresville to work in a vet office for a day or two while she was still in school just to be able to put that on her resume.
“Her drive is incredible.”
It was around this time last year that Nichol first learned that she was ranked No. 1 in her class when her father was checking on her grades at the end of her junior year. From then on, Nichol had a little extra fire to keep her standing.
“Once you’ve got that designation, it would be a shame to lose it,” she said. “If I wasn’t accepted into vet school and I had to explain how I dropped from No. 1 in my class, it would be hard.”
To go along with her Bachelor of Science degree in animal science, she also received a minor in microbiology with a concentration in veterinary bioscience.
Her goal is to one day open her own veterinary practice and has considered potentially specializing in orthopedic surgery or ophthalmology during her time in veterinary school.
As for the straight A’s streak that she’s had going since her first report card back in elementary school, Henderson recognizes the challenges she faces in vet school and knows it will be tough to keep the streak alive.
“I’ve heard that it’s like nothing else,” she said. “You’re not just doing school work, you’re working at practices and you really have to know everything because they test you on the smallest details.”
But she doesn’t have to worry about those challenges just yet. Her graduation ceremony was a celebration of her incredible accomplishment throughout her academic life, culminating with the chance to continue pursuing a life-long dream of becoming a veterinarian.
“We’re all just so proud of her,” Brad Henderson said.