PORTLAND, Ore. — Three high school seniors in Oregon and Southwest Washington were named finalists in the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholar program. The award is among the highest honors a high school senior can receive. It was established in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
The three seniors are Jenny Duan from Jesuit High School, Kyler Ye-Cheng Wang from Lincoln High School and Kelso Cosgrove from Kelso High School were among the nation's 161 finalists.
Each year, up to 161 students are named as presidential scholars.
Application for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is by invitation only. Students may not apply individually to the program or be nominated, unless that nomination comes from the state's education director.
A panel of private citizens selected by the president make up the Commission on Presidential Scholars, which selects the Presidential Scholars. The winners of the award demonstrate exceptional accomplishments in academics, the arts, career and technical education, and an outstanding commitment to public service.
"It feels awesome," Cosgrove said. "This is a genuine reaction. It's great. I'm super excited about this."
Cosgrove is a 4.0 student and a member of the Honor Society. He said he plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering after graduation.
Jenny Duan, 17, is a senior at Jesuit High School. She was recently named a Rose Festival Princess, a first in the school's history. She says she was sleeping when her parents woke her up excited with the news.
"They were really excited and I was asleep and I didn't know what was going on. After they told me I was really in shock for a while, but I was super excited too." Duan told KGW.
WATCH: Interview with Jenny Duan
Duan hopes by winning this award she will be able to inspire other people to make a change in their community, "I'd hope to inspire people to pursue whatever they're passionate about and to really put effort into something that they care about, whether that's advocacy or academics or athletics or anything else."
Duan is a member of the Diversity and Inclusion student council, Asian Student Union, Ethics Bowl Team, Jazz Band and Mental Health Awareness club at Jesuit. Outside of school, she's involved in advocacy with the Oregon Chinese Coalition as well as with APANO, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, with Rose Haven and with OMSI
She plans to attend Stanford University in the fall and pursue a degree in symbolic systems.
The scholars will take part in a virtual ceremony and receive a presidential medallion at a later date.
For a full list of all 161 winners for 2022, click here.