All four of Kentucky’s honorees in the 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program hail from Fayette County Public Schools. Aaron Choate and Kasey Fields of Lafayette and Zsombor Gal and David Ma of Paul Laurence Dunbar have earned one of the nation’s most prestigious awards recognizing high school students’ accomplishments.
In addition, each senior nominated a significant mentor for the Presidential Scholars Distinguished Teachers list. Aaron chose Laurie Fields, who teaches dance (ballet) in the SCAPA program; Kasey selected math teacher Laura Gravitt; Zsombor picked history instructor Michelle Peck Williams; and David went with Susan Magedanz, his academic team coach.
Aaron intends to major in dance at The Juilliard School in New York, while Kasey will study environmental engineering at Yale. Zsombor plans to explore molecular biology at Princeton, and David will attend Harvard, pursuing a double major in computer science and biomedical engineering. These four students were among nine National Merit semifinalists from Kentucky.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects 161 seniors annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,200 candidates qualified for the 2018 awards based on their performance on the SAT and ACT exams and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations, or the National YoungArts Foundation’s YoungArts competition.
The 2018 scholars include one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 in the arts (such as Aaron), and 20 in career and technical education.
In late June, the scholars will network with government leaders, educators, authors, musicians, scientists, and others in Washington, D.C., as they discuss global issues, volunteer for service projects, attend recitals and receptions, and tour area museums and monuments. Each recent graduate will also receive a Presidential Scholar medallion.