2 students named presidential scholarship holders

The two Bentonville High School students who the U.S. Department of Education named the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars last week have one thing in common besides an academic achievement portfolio.

They love the arts.

Rachael Thumma, 18, is a passionate Bharatanatyam dancer. Bharatanatyam is a classical Indian dance form. Thumma collaborated with a team from the Dhirana Academy of Classical Dance in Bentonville to create the first-ever Indian dance drama in Arkansas.

Saahas Parise, also 18, played guitar for the Bentonville High School Competitive Jazz Band. The band won third place at the 54th Annual Drury Jazz Festival in 2020.

“I’ve been playing guitar since second grade,” he said in an email.

Thumma and Parise are among 161 high school students selected nationwide by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

The Presidential Scholar Award is given to one male and one female high school student from each state, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American families living abroad, along with 15 other students chosen at large, 20 in the arts and 20 in career and technique. education.

More than 5,000 applicants of the 3.7 million students expected to graduate from high school this year have qualified for the 2022 awards based on their scores on the College Board’s SAT or ACT exams or through appointments.

When selecting scholarship recipients, the White House Commission considers academic achievement, artistic and technical excellence, essays, academic evaluations and transcripts, as well as commitment to community service and the leadership.

Thumma, who scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and a near-perfect PSAT score (1500/1520), will attend the University of Notre Dame. She plans to specialize in biochemistry in the pre-medical branch of the university. After that, she said she hoped to go to medical school and become a doctor/physician researcher.

“Currently, I am very interested in identifying the preventive factors (such as different vitamins/minerals and environmental factors) and risk factors (such as biomarkers, body compositions and cultural diets) that are involved in the chronic diseases,” she said in an email. .

“As a physician, I hope to develop new ways of preventive care to combat chronic lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, as well as to meet current standards of treatment in order to better adapt to the metabolic and cultural makeup of ethnic minorities in America My ultimate goal is to lead initiatives to make population-specific preventive medicine accessible to underserved populations around the world to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease.

Parise goes to Duke University to study computer science.

He said he wanted to become either an artificial intelligence researcher or a technology entrepreneur.

“I want to design ethical AI for social good, like smart tutoring systems to improve the quality of education in third world countries or non-discriminatory AI for use in court cases.”

In 2018 he was the recipient of the ‘Irish or Irish-American History’ award on National History Day for his website on the Irish independence movement.

He is founder and CEO of Tech-Kno, INC., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation’s involvement in the world of emerging technologies.

Parise is also a co-founder of the musicNU project, a free virtual platform in development teaching music theory concepts to underprivileged students at Northwestern University’s Technology Innovations Lab for Inclusive Learning and Teaching.

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