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U.S. Presidential Scholars Program Semifinalists Named

Thirteen Georgia public school students recognized


MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Cardoza, GaDOE Communications Office, (404) 651-7358,

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May 14, 2015 – Thirteen students from Georgia public high schools have been named semifinalists in the 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students. Each year, up to 141 students are named as U.S. Presidential Scholars. The 13 Georgia students are among 565 semifinalists named this year.

“I am enormously proud of these students and their hard work,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “Receiving this honor is not possible without diligence, persistence, and a true desire to seek knowledge. I wish them the best as selection continues and cannot wait to see what they accomplish in the future.

”Students have the opportunity to become U.S. Presidential Scholars based on two paths of accomplishment. The majority of the scholars are selected on the basis of broad academic achievement; additionally, 20 additional students are selected on the basis of their academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts, or creative writing.

Each year, more than 3,900 candidates are identified for the academic component of the program, based on having scored exceptionally well on the SAT or the ACT. Approximately 20 females and 20 males are selected as candidates from each state, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and from families of U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, each Chief State School Officer may nominate five male and five female candidates, based on their outstanding scholarship. For the arts component of the program, students are initially selected based on their artistic ability.

To confirm their interest and assist in the selection process, all academic and arts candidates complete and submit candidacy materials for review, including essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts. A review committee of qualified individuals experienced in secondary and post-secondary education evaluates candidates on their academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership and service activities, and the quality and content of their essay. Names and supporting materials of semifinalists are forwarded to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars to further review, and that Commission selects up to 121 Academic Scholars and up to 20 Arts Scholars.

All scholars are honored for their accomplishments in Washington D.C. in June. During this trip, U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the Commission and enjoy a chance to meet with government officials, educators, authors, musicians, scientists, and other accomplished individuals. Scholars have the opportunity to visit museums and monuments and attend recitals, receptions, and ceremonies. To commemorate their achievement, the scholars are awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. For more information, visit

The 13 finalists from Georgia public schools are:


-Benjamin B. Chen, Campbell High School (Cobb County)


-Ryan C. Chen, Brookwood High School (Gwinnett County)


-Kathryn E. Duncan, Carrollton High School (Carrollton City)  


-Tony W. Gong, Northview High School (Gwinnett County)


-Eli C. Guidry, Perry High School (Houston County)


-Furichous J. Jones, Central High School (Carroll County)


-Justin L. Lee, Northview High School (Gwinnett County)


-Megan J. Paik, North Gwinnett High School (Gwinnett County)


-Yash P. Shirsath, Grayson High School (Gwinnett County)


-Dain Song, Lanier High School (Gwinnett County)


-Sida Tang, Parkview High School (Gwinnett County)


-Austin K. Wang, George Walton High School (Cobb County)


Rebecca X. Yan, Lambert High School (Forsyth County)