Jessica Lao '19 has been recognized as a semifinalist for the 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.
Semifinalists are chosen from more than 4,000 candidates, who were invited to apply to the program based on the student's SAT/ACT score or a recommendation. Candidates then go through a rigorous application process where they must submit candidacy materials, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. Candidates are evaluated on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership, service, and other extracurricular activities, and an analysis of their essays.
Seven Westminster seniors were named candidates for the program:
- Gehna Chaubal
- Katherine Hennessy
- Jessica Lao
- Katherine Li
- Isabella Pu
- Caroline Taylor
- Dylan Vroon
A review committee of educators then selects approximately 800 semifinalists. Jessica is one of just 19 students in Georgia to be recognized as a semifinalist.
In May, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars makes the final selection of up to 161 Presidential Scholars. The 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be comprised of 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 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established to recognize and honor the nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored almost 7,500 of the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during an annual ceremony in Washington. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.