EAST BRUNSWICK – A senior at East Brunswick High School was one of three New Jersey students – 161 across the country – chosen to receive the distinction of U.S. Presidential Scholar by the U.S. Department of Education.
Carson He attributes his nomination and selection to his work ethic and his extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.
“Being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar is really exciting and gratifying. It feels nice for my hard work throughout high school to be recognized, and my parents are very proud of me.
“Some of the accomplishments that I think contributed to me receiving this award include being named the valedictorian of my class, winning awards at national and international piano competitions, serving as president of the Mock Trial club, being captain of the varsity tennis team, Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper, president of the English Honor Society, and president of the East Brunswick Youth Council,” He said.
The exclusive program is invitation only by the U.S. Department Education’s (DOE). Thus, students cannot be nominated by their schools or apply directly to the program. Students that do receive an invitation to apply are evaluated by a review committee.
Selections are determined by a combination of academic achievements, standardized testing scores, community involvement, school transcripts, leadership qualities, artistic prowess, technical abilities and a personal essay.
More than 5,000 candidates qualified for the program, according to a press release through the DOE. However, as applications were reviewed, 161 finalists were ultimately selected by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars to represent the program’s 58th class.
“Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists
“As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2022 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 U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.”
For He, the recognition reflected his support system and his internal motivation to achieve success throughout his high school career. Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, he explained that he managed to find a “balance” between academics and life outside the classroom.
“The last four years of high school have gone by both really slowly and really quickly. Due to the pandemic, I spent part of sophomore year and all of junior year at home, and logging onto [Microsoft] Teams calls every day got pretty monotonous.
“However, going back to school in-person this year has been super refreshing, and these last couple months have flown by. The biggest lessons I’ve learned have been to take things one step at a time, prioritize mental health, and appreciate the time I get to spend with family and friends.
“I think that striking a balance between schoolwork and doing things I enjoy has been important; taking time to read, watch shows, play piano, nap, and relax has helped me manage stress and do my best in school.
“My English teacher, Mrs. [Elizabeth] Kenny-Stein, and my counselor, Mrs. [Jennifer] Lipariti, have been invaluable sources of support on my academic journey.
“In terms of intrinsic motivation, I have to give credit to my parents. The way they carry themselves and tackle challenges has impacted me immensely, and their resilience, tenacity and work ethic have deeply influenced my own,” He said.
Set to attend Princeton University after graduation, He plans on majoring in English. In addition, he aspires to attend law school and become a published author.