2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars Announced

Tuesday May 7th, 2019

Blog > 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars Announced

The National YoungArts Foundation congratulates the 55th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, with special acknowledgement to the 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts who are YoungArts winners. The U.S. Presidential Scholars award—one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students who exemplify academic excellence—is presented on behalf of the President of the United States and honors up to 161 graduating high school seniors of high potential each year. The U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts (full list below) were nominated by YoungArts to The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and selected based on academic and artistic excellence, leadership qualities and community service. For students who would like to be considered for this outstanding honor in the future, the YoungArts application opens on June 4, 2019 at youngarts.org/apply.
“I want to congratulate this year’s class of Presidential Scholars on their achievement both inside of the classroom and out,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Their hard work and commitment to excellence, no matter what challenge they are tackling, will serve them well throughout their lifelong learning journeys. I have no doubt that many of tomorrow’s leaders are among this year’s class of Scholars.”
This year marks the 55th anniversary of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. In honor of the anniversaries, a three-day celebration of the Scholars’ Alumni community featuring a special public symposium will be held in Washington, D.C., in June just before the public performance and exhibition by current winners. The 2019 Presidential Scholars Foundation Celebration will also be held in June to honor three Presidential Scholar Alumni—dancer Desmond Richardson (1986 YoungArts Winner in Dance & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), climate scientist Dr. Richard Alley (1976 U.S. Presidential Scholar) and hematologist Dr. Katherine High (1968 U.S. Presidential Scholar) with the Roosevelt Thompson Award—and philanthropist Lin Arison, founder of YoungArts, with the Dr. Felice Kaufmann Award from the Presidential Scholars Foundation and Alumni Association. 
Sarah Arison, chair of the National YoungArts Foundation Board of Trustees, said, “Every year YoungArts is grateful for the singular honor of nominating our winners to become U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts. This year, the 40th anniversary of the award is especially meaningful to me because my grandmother, Lin Arison, who founded YoungArts to encourage emerging talents, is also being recognized. We congratulate all of the winners and look forward to continuing to offer our support throughout their artistic journeys.”
National Recognition Program at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
From June 23-25, the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts will join the other 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars from across the country in Washington, D.C., for the annual National Recognition Program, during which all Scholars receive a Presidential Medallion presented on behalf of the President of the United States. On June 24, the Arts Scholars will present their work to the public at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts through a special performance, “A Salute to the 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars," at 8 p.m. in Concert Hall. The free multidisciplinary performance will celebrate all of this year’s awardees and will be directed by award-winning choreographer, performer and YoungArts master teacher John Heginbotham. Starting that evening, an exhibition of works created by the recognized photographers, visual artists and writers will also be on view in the Hall of Nations until July 6. Tickets for the performance are available before June 19 by reservation at [email protected], and at the door June 24 on a first-come, first-served basis.

“It is a sincere joy to work with the young artists of this program. What is so clear from meeting them, listening to them, and collaborating with them is that they truly are strong voices guiding us all into the future of the American arts,” said John Heginbotham. “My heartfelt thanks to the National YoungArts Foundation, the Commission on Presidential Scholars, and the U.S. Department of Education for their support of these accomplished and inspiring individuals. For there to be productive, interesting, vibrant growth in any direction, we as the receivers of art need to be moved from the inside. These artists have taken on the beautiful, challenging and worthy responsibility of inviting us to be moved. I'm so honored to be a part of celebrating and acknowledging them and their achievements.”

Alumni Anniversary Symposium
From June 21-23, a special anniversary symposium for 1964 – 2018 Scholars and friends, “New Perspectives for Our Times: The Transformative Power of Artists,” will feature presentations by Presidential Scholars from the last five decades, including keynote speaker Jane R. Rigby (1996 U.S. Presidential Scholar), a civil servant astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Kim Barker (1988 U.S. Presidential Scholar), a reporter on the investigations team at The New York Times; Rachel S. Moore, Los Angeles Music Center President (1982 Winner in Dance & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts); U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson (1971 U.S. Presidential Scholar); artists Lee Heinemann (2011 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), Jean Shin (1990 YoungArts Winner in Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts), and Nadia Wolff (2016 YoungArts Winner in Design Arts and Visual Arts & U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts); and more. The symposium will offer participants the opportunity to network and learn from like-minded individuals. For more information, visit presidentialscholars.org.
The performance and exhibition is a celebration of all U.S. Presidential Scholars, and is co-presented by the National YoungArts Foundation, the Commission on the U.S. Presidential Scholars and the U.S. Department of Education. 

Becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts
The first step to becoming a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts is to apply to the National YoungArts Foundation’s annual competition. Applicants must be between the ages of 15–18 or in high school grades 10–12. To be further considered for nomination as a U.S. Presidential Scholar by the organization, applicants must be high school seniors and meet all of the U.S. Presidential Scholars requirements.

YoungArts winners demonstrating excellence in the visual, literary, design or performing arts are selected annually through a blind adjudication process. This year, YoungArts received approximately 8,000 applications and, from this pool, 710 YoungArts winners were selected. In January, approximately 163 Finalists from across the nation were invited to National YoungArts Week in Miami, where they participated in intensive master classes and workshops with internationally renowned artists and shared their work through public performances, readings, exhibitions and screenings.

During National YoungArts Week, eligible participants are further evaluated, award levels are determined, and nominations are made for that year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts candidates. After a rigorous selection process, YoungArts nominates 60 candidates for an invitation to apply to the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Finally, the Commission on Presidential Scholars selects 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts each year.

The 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts are:
Name Hometown, State School YoungArts Winner Year and Discipline
Nina Ahmadi Miami, FL Design & Architecture Senior High School 2019, Visual Arts
Njari Anderson West Palm Beach, FL Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts 2019, Visual Arts
Anthony Choi New York, NY High School for Math, Science, and Engineering at City College of New York 2018, Classical Music
Vivian DeRosa Ocean Township, NJ Communications High School of Monmouth County 2019, Writing
Alaman Diadhiou Los Angeles, CA Brentwood School 2016, Dance
Mercedes Ferreira-Dias Hialeah, FL Mater Lakes Academy 2019, Voice
Luke Herzog Pacific Grove, CA Pacific Grove High School 2018, Writing
Cassandra James Kissimmee, FL James Home School 2019, Writing
Isaiah Kim Nether Providence Township, PA Strath Haven High School 2019, Classical Music
Charles Kogen Los Angeles, CA Harvard-Westlake School 2019, Voice
Annette Lee Pasadena, CA Polytechnic School 2018, Classical Music
Anne Liu San Diego, CA Canyon Crest Academy 2018, Classical Music
Amber Magnuson Greenville, SC South Carolina Governor’s School for Arts & Humanities 2017, Writing
Kevan McClaflin Birmingham, AL Alabama School of Fine Arts 2019, Visual Arts
Madelin Morales Fairfield, NJ West Essex Senior High School 2019, Voice
Sophie Paquette Bloomington, IN Interlochen Arts Academy 2019, Writing
Isha Parupudi Friendswood, TX Clear Springs High School 2019, Dance
Kyle Smith Dallas, TX St. Mark’s School of Texas 2019, Photography
Emma Sutherland Dallas, TX Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts 2019, Dance
Cynthia Zhou San Jose, CA Leland High School 2018, Design Arts

To see the full list of 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars, click here.