Photo: Seo Yoon Yang, a senior at Signal Mountain Middle High School
Photo Credit: Hamilton County Schools
Published May 20, 2021
Chattanooga, TN – Seo Yoon Yang, a senior at Signal Mountain Middle High School, was announced as a 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Yang is one of 161 finalists from across the country and among the three finalists from Tennessee.
Yang was selected as a finalist for the competition for her demonstrated excellence in academics. She is no stranger to recognition, as she is co-valedictorian of her graduating class and leads Student Body Public Relations.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have been selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar this year,” said Yang. “I still remember how surprised I felt when I opened the email that started with ‘Congratulations’, and it felt like all of my hard work paid off because our national government was recognizing me.”
Yang is an active participant on and off the Signal Mountain Middle High campus.
She was the Director-General for SHSMUN 2020 (Southeastern High School Model U.N. conference), is involved in the theater department, and is also part of Chattanooga Students Demand Action, the National Students Demand Action advisory board, and Chattanooga Students Leading Change.
After graduation, Yang will be studying at the University of Pennsylvania through the Huntsman Program, a dual degree program for International Business and International Studies.
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“Seo’s selection as a U.S. Presidential Scholar is a testament to her hard work and dedication to excellence,” said Dr. Bryan Johnson, superintendent of Hamilton County Schools. “We join her family in celebrating this outstanding achievement and look forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the future.”
Other scholars in Tennessee that received the recognition this year include two students from Brentwood, Nelson D. Rose from Brentwood High School and Alora E. Young from Hillsboro High School.
U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona stated, “The 2021 Presidential Scholars represent extraordinary achievements for our extraordinary times. Their examples make me proud and hopeful about the future. Honoring them can remind us all of the great potential in each new generation and renew our commitment to helping them achieve their dreams.”
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 evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.
Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 6,000 candidates qualified for the 2021 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 the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ program.
As directed by Presidential Executive Order, the 2021 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.
Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,600 of the nation’s top-performing students. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
The Presidential Scholars Class of 2021 will be recognized for their outstanding achievement this summer.
A complete list of 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars is also available here.