Who is Paxton Smith? Texas valedictorian behind viral graduation speech

Olivia Olphin June 3, 2021
Who is Paxton Smith? Texas valedictorian behind viral graduation speech


Who is Paxton Smith, the Texan teen who decided to use her valedictorian speech to protest the new abortion law in Texas? The video of her speech has gone viral and is being celebrated on social media. Here’s what you need to know about this inspiring young woman.

Who is Texas valedictorian Paxton Smith?

Paxton Smith is 18 years old and lives in Dallas, Texas. She attends Lake Highlands High School and was the valedictorian this year.

Smith just graduated with an incredible 104.93 average. With these amazing results she is headed to the University of Texas in Austin for college. However, she doesn’t quite know what she wants to major in just yet.

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While at Lake Highlands, Paxton Smith was very involved in sports and she thanked her coach at the beginning of her valedictorian speech, saying he has had: “A bigger role in my life than he realises.”

Smith is also a passionate advocate of voter registration and has asked people to: “Register to vote for the next election and to stay involved in local elections because those have more power than I think the media gives them credit for.”

What was Smith’s graduation speech about?

Paxton Smith decided to abandon a previous speech she had prepared in order to talk about the recent so-called “heartbeat bill” that has recently passed in the state of Texas.

This bill was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott last month and prohibits women from having abortions as early as six weeks into the pregnancy, when many women don’t even know they’re pregnant yet.

Paxton Smith’s graduation speech confidently criticises this bill as she states:

“We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our consent or input, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, that if I’m raped, then my hopes and efforts and dreams for myself will no longer be relevant.”

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Former Democratic presidential nominee Hilary Clinton wrote about the speech: “This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton”.

We wish Smith all the best with the next step of her career at the University of Texas.

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Olivia Olphin is a freelance writer at GRV Media. She graduated with a first in English Literature from UCL and with a distinction from the Broadcast Journalism MA at City University. She has three years of freelance journalism experience and during this time she has worked for companies such as Eurosport and Times Radio. Her particular areas of expertise include film, theatre, and TV; she will most likely be found bingeing the newest fantasy or Marvel series! Olivia has many years of reviewing experience, working as accredited press for the London Film Festival. She has also written widely about culture and sex education, as well as LGBTQ+ and women's issues.