Three Utah high school seniors are among 161 nationwide who have been recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars, the Department of Education announced Wednesday. One of the three is Aaron Wang, who earlier this year was selected as General Sterling Scholar of the 2023 Deseret News/KSL Sterling Scholar program.

Wang, a senior at Granite School District’s Skyline High School, also won the top prize in the longtime Utah scholarship program’s computer science category.

Wang was recognized as a U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career and Technical Education, one of 20 nationwide.

Michael Chen and Priyanka Mathews, both seniors at Canyons School District’s Hillcrest High School, were also selected U.S. Presidential Scholars.

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The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as a demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership, according to an Education Department press release.

Wang, Chen and Mathews were among some 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2023 awards with outstanding performance on 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. For context, approximately 3.7 million students are expected to graduate from high school this year.

Michael Chen | Canyons School District
Priyanka Mathews | Canyons School District

“U.S. Presidential Scholars have always represented the future of our country and the bright promise it holds. I want each of these remarkable students to know: your passion and intellect, pursuit of excellence and spirit of service are exactly what our country needs,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

As directed by presidential executive order, the 2023 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, who included Wang. The award does not carry a monetary stipend.

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“On behalf of President Biden, I am delighted to join your family, friends, and communities in celebrating your accomplishments. Aim high, share your talents, and continue embracing opportunities to lead as your exciting future unfolds,” Cardona said.

The Presidential Scholars program, created in 1964, has honored more than 8,000 of the nation’s top-performing students. The recognition program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts and again in 2015, to recognize students’ abilities and accomplishments in career and technical education fields. 

A complete list of 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars is available at http://www.ed.gov/psp

Three Utah educators were also recognized as 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program’s Distinguished Teachers, as nominated by the three presidential scholars from Utah:

  • Katie Bullock, Hillcrest High School, English, nominated by Mathews.
  • Kenneth Kapptie, Skyline High School, computer science, nominated by Wang.
  • Samuel Richins, Hillcrest High School, history, nominated by Chen.
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