Urban Students Selected as 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars

  • Vaeanui Peck, a senior at Kahuku High and Intermediate School in Hawaii, is ranked first in her class with a 4.145 grade-point average and will be graduating as valedictorian with academic, STEM Capstone, National Honor Society and career and technical education honors. She is a participant of the Windward Community College Early College Program and has accumulated 26 college credits toward an associate’s degree.

    Peck is also one of 161 high school seniors in the nation recently selected to the 59th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars for their accomplishments in one of three categories: academics; visual, creative and performing arts; or career and technical fields.

    Peck was named a 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholar in Career in Technical Education – a category that only honors up to 20 students.

    Each year, the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars chooses scholars based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations, transcripts, and demonstrated commitment to community service and leadership.

    Administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the Presidential Scholars program has honored more than 8,000 of the nation’s top-performing students since its creation in 1964. Of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,000 high school seniors qualified for the 2023 award. 

    In addition to Peck, urban students Katherine Jordan Little from Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver; and Amy Park from West Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas were selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars for career and technical education.

    Students in big-city schools chosen as Presidential Scholars for academics were Saul Villatoro from Francis L. Cardoza High School in Washington, D.C.; Luke Linxiao Yang from Palmetto Senior High School in Miami; Troy Warren Harris from Clark High School in Las Vegas; Daniel Z. Liu from Baton Rouge Magnet High School in Louisiana; Lillian Yang from Alaska’s West Anchorage High; and Jackson Powell Church from Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School.

    Cassidy May Reigel from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Zariya M. Perry and Cole Willis from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Dallas were named Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

    All scholars will receive the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion in June.