Maple Grove resident named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Zoe Tu among the 141 seniors selected nationwide for the prestigious award

by jason jenkins

Sun sailor Newspapers


Each year, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors 141 students with one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

This year, the impressive accomplishment was achieved by not one, but two students connected to Wayzata or the Wayzata School District – Wayzata High School senior and Maple Grove resident Zoe Tu and Wayzata resident Patrick Buehler. Buehler, who is a senior at private college-prep school Providence Academy in Plymouth.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars annually selects honorees based on academic achievement, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations, transcripts and community service.

Maple Grove resident and Wayzata High School senior Zoe Tu.
Maple Grove resident and Wayzata High School senior Zoe Tu.

Of the three million students expected to graduate from high school in 2014 in the country, approximately 3,900 candidates qualified for the award.

U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, Washington DC, Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Students honored receive an expense-paid trip to Washington D.C. and are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.

Zoe, Patrick and other Scholars will have access to important national and international figures, including government officials, educators, authors, musicians and scientists during their visit to Washington. Scholars will also attend recitals, receptions and ceremonies held in their honor.

After being named, each Presidential Scholar was offered the opportunity to name a teacher who has held an influential role in their academic success. Each teacher named is honored with a personal letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Busy wrapping up her high school careers, Zoe recently found time to talk with Sun Sailor about the news, what the honor means and their most influential teacher.

Question: What was your reaction when you heard you had been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar? 

Zoe: I had no idea finalists were coming out that day, so it came as a pretty big shock! They had sent it in an email and the subject had “congratulations” in it. I immediately started freaking out and sprinted down the stairs to tell my parents.

Q: What does this award mean to you? 

Zoe: It’s such an incredible honor to have been chosen for this award. I’ve definitely worked hard in order to earn this, so I guess it shows that hard work really does pay off!

Q: Will you be flying out to Washington D.C. in June for the ceremony? 

Zoe: Yes, I will be flying out in June. I’m so excited to meet all of the other finalists, and fingers crossed that we’ll be able to meet the president!

Q: I see you chose Jodi Grack as your most influential teacher? What has she done that’s made her so influential in your life?

Zoe: I had AP Chemistry with Mrs. Grack last year, and she really made chemistry into something I would like to study in the future. It was a very challenging class, but she always found ways to make class interesting through stories, demos and cool labs. She genuinely cares so much about her students, and she’s also just a really fun person to be around and chat with!

Q: Anything else you’d like to add about Wayzata High School or the award?

Zoe: I have to give a huge thanks to all of the staff at Wayzata. They are all incredible and I wouldn’t have come close to winning this without all of the opportunities they’ve given me. I’m really proud to have gotten this award, but I’m not letting it get to my head. I’ll just keep reaching for my goals and know that good things do happen to those who work for it!


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