Twenty six Indian-American and South Asian-American students, 14 of them girls, have been selected for the prestigious 2018 Presidential Scholars Program. They are among the 161 selected from around the country in what is seen as one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students, the U.S. Department of Education announced May 8. The Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.
In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
“I want to congratulate this year’s class of Presidential Scholars on their achievement and also thank their parents, teachers and other academic advisors who have helped guide them along the way,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is quoted saying in a press release. “These students have pushed themselves to be the best they can be, and I am certain that devotion will serve them well as they continue their individual learning journeys,” she added.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars 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.
To understand how competitive this program is, some 3.6 million students are expected to graduate from high school this year, and more than 5,200 candidates qualified for the 2018 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations or the National Young Arts Foundation’s nationwide. Those were culled down to 161 finalists.
The 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars are 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, plus the latest addition of 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education.
The 2018 ceremony will be held June 24, when each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.
Following is the list of Indian-American/South Asian scholars selected this year:
[*] An asterisk indicates a Presidential Scholar in the Arts
[**] Two asterisks indicate a Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education
Mansi Totwani, St. Thomas – Antilles School
Aditya Sivakumar, Phoenix – BASIS PHOENIX
Anika Mittal, Blytheville – KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School
Advait Patil, San Jose – Lynbrook High School Colorado – 2 of 3
Siddharth M. Mane, Greenwood Village – Cherry Creek High School
Isani Singh, Aurora – Cherry Creek High School
Sidhika Balachandar, Gainesville – Buchholz High School
Neeharika Kothapalli, Overland Park – Blue Valley West High School
Sreya Vangara, Germantown – Poolesville Senior High School
Michigan – 2 of 6
Neha Seshadri, Ann Arbor – Skyline High School
[**] Veena Thamilselvan, Farmington Hills – Harrison High School
New Hampshire – 1 of 2
Vinjai S. Vale, Exeter – Phillips Exeter Academy
New Jersey – 1 of 5
[**] Deven Singh, Manalapan – Monmouth Academy of Allied Health & Sciences
C – Nithya S. Adusumilli, Cary – Raleigh Charter High School
Ronak Bhagia, Charlotte – Providence Day School
North Dakota – 1 of 4
Nidhi T. Mahale, Fargo – Davies High School
Ohio – 1 of 5
[*] Shreyah Mohanselvan, New Albany – Columbus Academy
Pennsylvania – 2 of 3
Aryaman Khandelwal, Breinigsville – Parkland High School
Pranshu Suri, Bryn Mawr – The Baldwin School
Texas – 2 of 6
Sonesh Patel, Austin – Vandegrift High School
Syamantak Payra, Friendswood – Clear Brook High School
[**] UT – Kanishka Ragula, Salt Lake City – Skyline High School
Virginia — all three
Kavya Kopparapu, Herndon – Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology
Mihir Patel, Great Falls – Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology
Marissa Sumathipala, Ashburn – Broad Run High School
Vinitha Joseph, Morgantown – Morgantown High School