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U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Candidate

ZhengState High senior Emily Zhang has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholars Program candidate, placing her in select company.


The program nominated 5,000 candidates from the nearly 3.6 million U.S high school seniors expected to graduate in 2023. From the pool, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars ultimately will choose 161 finalists for one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. 


“The Scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in young people,” the program states. 


Zhang and other candidates in the program’s academic component received invitations to apply based on exceptional SAT and ACT scores — the top 20 from male and female examinees in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. American students attending school abroad are also eligible, and chief state school officers may nominate at-large candidates for their outstanding scholarship.


Separate processes tab candidates for artistic and technical education excellence.


Candidates submitted essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts for review, and will be evaluated on the quality of their essays as well as their academic and artistic achievement, personal characteristics, and leadership and service activities. The commission will narrow the field to approximately 600 semi-finalists before announcing the 2023 Scholars in May and honoring them with the Presidential Scholars Medallion.


The president of State High’s art club and captain of the girls’ tennis team, Zhang plans to pursue physics in college with a minor in fine arts. Outside of school, she manages EvaxDental, a startup she co-founded that makes a vacuum cup for dental office sanitation. She also devotes herself to education-related community service, including interning at Discovery Space and overseeing Physics for Girls, the exploratory summer camp she started for middle school students. 


Since the program’s inception in 1964, seven State High students have been Scholars, most recently Joey Feffer in 2017. 


By Chris Rosenblum

Photo by Nabil K. Mark