By Janelle Morrison
James “Jimmy” Wang, a Zionsville resident and a senior at University High School, an independent college preparatory school in Carmel, has been named a 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholar. Wang is the only U.S Presidential Scholar from Central Indiana, one of just two recipients from Indiana and the first University High School senior to receive this year’s honor. The news of Wang’s designation prompted a visit from U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks to his high school to recognize him for his academic achievements.
The United States Presidential Scholars Program is considered one of the Nation’s highest honors for high school students. The program was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to celebrate the most distinguished graduating high school seniors in the U.S. The United States Dept. of Education and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects up to 141 students as designated Scholars.
Wang will travel to Washington, D.C., in June for the National Recognition Weekend and will be presented with a Presidential Scholars Medallion in a ceremony to commemorate their achievements, along with his fellow Scholar recipients. The Scholars will be individually awarded the medallion by the President of the United States.
Derek Thomas, an English teacher at University High School, taught and mentored Wang.
“Jimmy is one of the smartest kids I have taught in high school,” Thomas said. “What is good about our mentoring relationship is that we just talk about whatever is intriguing him and intriguing us about the world of learning and knowledge. When he was a freshman, I gave him a book about neuroscience. Now he’s planning to study neuroscience in college.”
Wang’s high GPA and perfect scores on both the SAT and ACT exams and well-rounded experience at University High School qualified him as a Scholar candidate. Wang competed for the varsity cross country team, the academic team, acted in theatre productions, completed a Research Scholars project on thought experiments [philosophy], and interned one summer for the department of neurology at IUPUI. Wang credits the school for allowing him to explore all of his interests.
“University High School just has a lot of opportunities for you to succeed,” Wang said. “I can just go to Dr. Kip Robisch to talk about things. That’s how I came up with my research scholars idea to study philosophy. The teachers are really friendly and really qualified.”
Wang plans to attend Washington University in St. Louis this fall, focusing on a philosophy-neuroscience-psychology degree.