On Tuesday, Madison West High School senior Charles Hua was named a 2018 U.S. presidential scholar, one of 161 students from across the country to receive the honor.
The United States Presidential Scholars Program recognizes some of the top students in the country in academics, arts and career and technical education. It is considered one of the nation’s most prestigious honors for high school students. This year, 5,200 students were invited to apply for the program, based on their grades, standardized test scores and extracurricular activities. Although the award does not include a financial scholarship, students receive a trip to Washington D.C. where they have the opportunity to network with elected officials and scholars, and visit museums in the city.
"I'm incredibly humbled to be honored as a U.S. presidential scholar and am deeply appreciative of the support I have received from my family, school counselor, teachers, administrators and peers," Hua said. "Through this award, I feel even more empowered to benefit my community through service."
Hua is president of West High’s Green Club, a group dedicated to environmental sustainability. The club has raised $100,000 to install solar panels at the school, which will happen this summer, Hua said.
West High’s new principal Karen Boran said Hua sets an excellent example for his peers and she is proud of his accomplishment.
“He is one of those kids that is a natural leader and academically talented," she said. "It could not have happened to a better choice.”
Hua will attend Harvard University this fall and plans to study mathematics and government, and hopes to pursue a career in energy policy.
Presidential Scholar honorees are invited to Washington D.C. for a celebratory dinner and ceremony, which will take place this year on June 24 at the Kennedy Center. Presidential scholars hail from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Nearly 7,500 students have earned the presidential scholar title since 1964. The other Wisconsin honorees this year are Xavier Lightfoot from Pius XI Catholic High School, Nabeel J. Quryshi from the University School of Milwaukee, Julian Rhee from Brookfield East High School and Sophia F. Sun from Brookfield Central High School.
The most recent presidential scholar from Dane County was Gabriel A. Saiz, also from West High School, who received the honor in 2016. In 2013, Hua's sister Amy was also named a presidential scholar.