This valedictorian hasn't missed a day of school since pre-K

"I hate being behind in my work so it was normal for me to show up."

June 25, 2020, 4:16 AM

A valedictorian is celebrating her high academic title in addition to having never been absent from class.

Ashanti Palmer recently graduated from Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, with perfect attendance. The 17-year-old said she hasn't missed school since pre-K, and intends to keep it going throughout college.

"There were days when I didn't feel like going to school, but I knew if you missed a day then you were behind, so I pushed through," Ashanti told "Good Morning America." "[My friends] know I hate being behind in my work so it was normal for me to show up."

Ashanti is leaving high school with a 99.08 average. She's been accepted to 18 colleges and awarded over $430,000 in scholarships.

PHOTO: Ashanti Palmer, valedictorian of Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to study biomedical engineering on the pre-med track.
Ashanti Palmer, valedictorian of Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to study biomedical engineering on the pre-med track.
Vincent Miller/ Nellie A. Thornton High School

Ashanti was a member of the National Honor Society and participated in a mentoring program where she and other girls were paired with career-driven women. Her favorite subject is math, and she took several AP courses.

When she isn't focused on academics, the teen reads and writes poetry, watches anime, and listens to rap and dancehall music.

Her principal, Dr. Evelyn Collins, said Ashanti was always committed.

PHOTO: Ashanti Palmer graduated from Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, with perfect attendance. The 17-year-old said she hasn't missed school since pre-k, and intends to keep it going throughout college.
Ashanti Palmer graduated from Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, with perfect attendance. The 17-year-old said she hasn't missed school since pre-k, and intends to keep it going throughout college.
Vincent Miller/ Nellie A. Thornton High School

"She's amazing," Collins told "GMA." "I told our superintendent, 'We have a student who's never missed school and who has been on the honor roll since kindergarten.' How do we celebrate this child so other students can see that it's possible? She stayed on the path. She stayed on the journey. It's phenomenal."

Ashanti is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to study biomedical engineering on the pre-med track.

PHOTO: Ashanti Palmer, valedictorian of Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to study biomedical engineering on the pre-med track.
Ashanti Palmer, valedictorian of Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, is headed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, to study biomedical engineering on the pre-med track.
Vincent Miller/ Nellie A. Thornton High School

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Kendra Grissom encountered many challenges, but her hard work paid off and she graduated as Spelman College’s valedictorian.

Her advice to rising students: "Focus on your own definition of success."

"Look at someone and see inspiration, but never see envy," she said. "We all have our own paths to take. Be focused on that goal."

PHOTO: Ashanti Palmer graduated from Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, with perfect attendance. The 17-year-old said she hasn't missed school since pre-k, and intends to keep it going throughout college.
Ashanti Palmer graduated from Nellie A. Thornton High School in Mount Vernon, New York, with perfect attendance. The 17-year-old said she hasn't missed school since pre-k, and intends to keep it going throughout college.
Ashanti Palmer

When asked if she had saved her perfect attendance certificates over the years, Ashanti laughed.

"One for every marking period," she replied. "My mom keeps everything."

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