FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The U.S. Presidential Scholar is one of the highest honors a high school senior can receive. This school year, Carroll senior Abby Lemert was one of two Indiana seniors, and 141 nationwide, to receive the prestigious honor.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, appointed by President Obama, selected Lemert and the other winners earlier this month. Candidates were judged based on essays, school evaluations and transcripts, along with personal characteristics and leadership services.
Each state has at least one boy and one girl named a Presidential Scholar each school year.
“I was so incredibly surprised,” Lemert told NewsChannel 15 Saturday. “I’d seen who some of the other candidates were and they had incredibly impressive resumes. The things they had done, I never thought I would get picked. I was just shocked.”
Lemert is expected to graduate in the top two of her class. She has also served as the captain of Carroll’s CANstruction team.
On the essay portion of the application, Lemert said she wrote about why she wanted to study aerospace engineering in college.
“A lot of my family is engineers,” said Lemert, who will enroll at Purdue University in the fall. “My grandfather was an aerospace engineer for the Navy. He helped develop the black box. I’ve kind of always had that legacy there.”
Also as part of the application, Lemert had to nominate a Distinguished Teacher. She selected Tish Clendenen, a Spanish teacher at Carroll.
“I was so honored she picked me,” said Clendenen, who had Lemert as a student for two years. “I cried a little bit.”
Lemert has also been the president of the school’s Spanish club.
“She’s always been one of my favorite teachers,” Lemert said. “She’s the one who made me love Spanish. It’s just great I get to share this with her.”
Lemert will officially be honored in Washington D.C. between June 22 and June 25. Lemert will receive her Presidential Scholar Medallion at that time during a ceremony. She will get the chance to meet other Presidential Scholar winners, along with lawmakers, too.
“I know I’m going to get to see Senator Dan Coats, and as long as nothing major happens nationally, President Obama is usually there, too,” Lemert said.
Northeast Indiana had two other candidates up for Presidential Scholar. They were Marielle Cabe of Homestead and Justin Stuckey of Leo.
The last time northeast Indiana had a Presidential Scholar was 2005, when Snider graduate Josiah Schwab received the honor.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. Each year, up to 141 students are named Presidential Scholars. It’s one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.