Two high school seniors from Miami-Dade County were among a select group of 161 students nationwide chosen as 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholars.
Nina Ahmadi, a senior at the Design & Architecture Senior High School (DASH) in Miami, and Mercedes F. Ferreira-Dias, a senior at Mater Lakes Academy High School in Miami Gardens, were announced Tuesday as members of the 55th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. They were among seven students in Florida honored for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.
Ahmadi and Ferreira-Dias were selected as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.
“Being named a Presidential Scholar is a remarkable honor these students will carry with them throughout their lives,” said Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, in a statement. “They were selected not only for their academic achievements, but for the hours these student leaders devoted to improving their community, fostering values as they helped others. We are elated that Miami-Dade students are among those being recognized nationally.”
The Presidential Scholars program is not a scholarship, but a “recognition program.”
Students chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars receive a free trip to Washington, D.C., in June and receive a medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House. During their visit, the students will be given opportunities to “wrestle with issues that concern America and the world; attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor; and visit area museums and monuments,” according to the program’s web page.
More than 5,200 candidates qualified for the 2019 awards, which are determined by performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams or via nominations from Chief State School officers, other organizations or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts competition.
In 2018, three students from Miami-Dade County were selected to be U.S. Presidential Scholars, including two students from New World School of the Arts in Miami and one from DASH.
The recipients are made up of one man and one woman from each state, Washington, D.C., 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.
The 2019 award ceremony will be June 23.
“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 in a statement. “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.”