U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today announced the selection of Jenning Chen of Columbia, South Carolina, who attends Spring Valley High School in Columbia, as a 2017 U.S. 
Presidential Scholar.

Chen is one of 161 outstanding American high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community. The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington D.C., from June 18-20.

"I congratulate this year's class of Presidential Scholars for their devotion to academic excellence and their parents and teachers who have guided them along the way,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. “Today's Presidential Scholars are tomorrow's leaders, and I am confident they will continue to be shining examples as they enter the next phase of their academic careers.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects honored scholars annually based on 
their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the 3.5 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,100 candidates qualified for the 2017 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts™ competition.

The 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 
15 chosen at-large, 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in 
Career and Technical Education.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored more than 7,000 of the nation’s 
top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in 
D.C. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize 
students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.

Since 1983, each U.S. Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most 
influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education.

The teacher chosen for recognition by Chen was Michelle Wyatt of Spring Valley High School in 
Columbia, South Carolina.
NOTE TO EDITORS:  A complete list of 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars is available at