Thomas Jefferson senior Alisha Saucedo has been named one of more than 4,500 candidates in the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars program.
Selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high schools in the United States this year, the U.S. Presidential Scholars program is one of the highest honors awarded to graduating seniors, according to the organization.
Students are selected for their superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.
Saucedo, 17, is heavily involved in academics, social and leadership clubs, and in athletics, all of which can get stressful, she said. Along with the support of her teachers, parents and community, “this recognition makes the stress feel worth it.”
Saucedo plays basketball and runs cross country and track, securing a spot on the varsity team and captain status for all three sports. Outside of school, she also runs for a club track team and plays club basketball.
“Sports have always been special for me, so I just hope underclassmen have those experiences that I had. I’m excited that’s happening,” Saucedo said of the upcoming return to high school sports.
She also plays in band, is a leadership mentor, runs committees, and is involved in a Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) club.
In June 2020, she helped organize a Black Lives Matter protest outside of Thomas Jefferson High School where more than 75 people joined to peacefully protest the killing of George Floyd and support the racial justice movement.
As the tail-end of her senior year shows some promise of familiar traditions, Saucedo said she misses the small interactions between teachers, friends and peers.
“You don’t realize how much of people’s personality is lost over Zoom,” she said. “I’m trying to think of a word to sum it up and I just can’t. It’s been a year of mixed emotions.”
With ever-changing updates surrounding safety guidelines, Saucedo said she was crushed every time something was cancelled, which led to a vicious cycle of being let down. Saucedo said she is powering through to the end of the year with a positive mindset.
In mid-February, Saucedo committed to Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, with plans to run cross country and track for the university while earning a degree in education.
Across the nation each year, up to 161 seniors are chosen as Presidential Scholars, representing “excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth,” according to the organization.
If circumstances permit, all recipients are invited to Washington, D.C., in June for the National Recognition Program, featuring various events and enrichment activities and culminating in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.
Submissions are under review and approximately 600 semifinalists will be selected in early April. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and the U.S. Department of Education will announce the Scholars in May.