Sharon Chen named 2016 US Presidential Scholar

Sharon Chen, second from left, traveled to the White House in September 2015 to accept a green innovation award from Managing Director of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Christy Goldfuss, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, and Associate Director for Public Engagement at the White House Council on Environmental Quality Angela Barranco.

U.S. Secretary of Education John King has announced the selection of Sharon Chen ’16 of Huntersville, NC, as a 2016 Presidential Scholar for North Carolina. Chen is one of 160 high school students recognized nationally from among 5,600 candidates invited to apply. 

Presidential Scholars demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to their school and community. The 2016 Scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington, D.C., June 19-21.

“Sharon is an exceptional student, both in terms of scholarship and leadership,” says Amy Sheck, dean of science at NCSSM. “She is dedicated to scientific research and, in her role as student president of the North Carolina Student Academy of Science, she encouraged others to pursue their research interests. Sharon’s excellence in research has been recognized at the international level. In particular, her research on how to reduce heavy-metal contamination from treated wood was recognized at the Intel Science and Engineering Fair.” 

Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education. Chen chose to recognize Jon Miller, an NCSSM humanities instructor who retired last year. 

Miller shares the respect. “Sharon is not only a superb student — bright, thoughtful, curious, conscientious, and articulate — but also she is a fine person — mature, responsible, positive, cheerful, energetic, well-rounded, and caring of others. She is also a whirlwind. She does so much so well. Her days must have more hours than the 24 relegated to the rest of us. All that she does she does well whether it be swimming or researching or getting ready for class.   “She is always aware of her community.  She organizes study groups; she is always ready to share her notes; she unobtrusively wakened the class sleeper; and she often asked the question that we most needed to be asked.  She even found time to come by to talk to her teacher about papers, ideas, life, and the day,” Miller remembers.

Fellow seniors who were named semifinalists as Presidential Scholars were Sophia Hu, Rishi Sundaresan, and Jonathon Kuo.

See related story: Chen earns presidential award for green research

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