By: Danielle Incognito
Vanessa Hue was recently one of eight high school seniors in New Jersey to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar for 2019. Every year, the White House selects scholars after taking in account their academic successes, artistic achievements, school evaluations, transcripts, community services, commitment to high ideals, leadership roles, and the essays they submit.
Over 3.6 million students were expected to graduate from high school this past year, and 5,200 of them qualified for the award. The candidates were selected as a result of their outstanding performances on the College Board SAT and ACT tests as well as through nominations made by the chief state school officers, partner recognition organizations, and through the National Young Arts Foundation’s national Young Arts Competition.
Established in 1964 by an executive order of the President, the award recognizes the nation’s most distinguished graduating students. Later, in 1979, the program included students who displayed achievements in the visual, literary, and performing arts categories as well. It is now one of the highest honors for high school students in the United States.
Every year it honors over 7,500 students who perform the highest in the nation. The program also honors one young woman and one young man from every state in the United States. Students are also chosen from the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and families living abroad. Fifteen families are chosen at-large, and 20 scholars are chosen from the arts and well as from the career and technical programs. Technical and career programs began being recognized in 2015.
Winners like Vanessa took a trip in June to Washington DC, where they were presented a medallion at a ceremony sponsored by The White House. Each summer, 161 Presidential Scholars take part in educational seminars and workshops with authors, musicians, scholars, educators, scientists, and even elected representatives. They are also asked to perform community service and attend cultural events as well as ceremonies held in their honor. Most importantly, during the National Recognition Program, the scholars make long lasting friendships and connections.
The United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos announced the winners as the 55th class of Presidential Scholars. “I want to congratulate this year’s class of Presidential Scholars on their achievement both inside of the classroom and out.” They consisted of 161 high school seniors from across the country who had shown excellence in academics, the arts, and career/technical education fields. She acknowledged their successes. “Their hard work and commitment to excellence, no matter what challenge they are tackling, will serve them well throughout their lifelong learning journeys. I have no doubt that many of tomorrow’s leaders are among this year’s class of scholars.”