Alyssa McGee is an independent, self-motivated 17-year-old senior at Sumner High School who stays busy with not only school but raising her flock of 20 breeding sheep, a supervised agricultural experience project that she’s done as a member of her local Future Farmers of America chapter.
Several weeks ago, McGee received an email from the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars — appointed by President Barack Obama — to inform her that she was selected as a 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar — one of only 160 high school seniors selected in the nation.
What makes McGee’s accomplishment even more distinguishable is her selection as a high achieving career and technical education presidential scholar — one of only 20 selected in the nation.
“It’s a big honor to be a presidential scholar,” McGee said. “At first I didn’t know how big a deal it was. Top 20 in the nation is pretty crazy. It’s a pretty humbling experience, but I’ve worked my entire life to get to this point and be recognized for my work.
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“You never do the work to get the recognition, but when you do it’s rewarding,” McGee added. “I like to focus on other people’s successes and their growth, so when it comes back to me, it’s very humbling.”
I like to focus on other people’s successes and their growth, so when it comes back to me, it’s very humbling.
Alyssa McGee, 2016 U.S. Presidential Scholar
McGee is part of the 52nd class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. The program recognizes 160 high school seniors in the nation for their achievements in the arts, academics, and career and technical education fields.
“This year’s class of Presidential Scholars continues a more than 50-year trend of honoring students who’ve shown excellence in their educational, artistic, and civic pursuits,” U.S. Secretary of Education John King said in a release. “Thirty years ago, the program was expanded to include students in the arts, which is critical to providing students with a well-rounded education. Now, we’ve added 20 more slots to honor our highest achieving students in career and technical education, reflecting the Department’s belief that a quality education must be a well-rounded education that prepares students for college, careers and any other civic service.”
McGee was selected based on her academic success, answers to essay questions, and demonstration of her community service, leadership, and commitment to high ideals.
In regards to her academic success, McGee holds a cumulative 3.89 GPA. She achieved a score of 1880 on her SAT. Her leadership and community service has been strong in her FFA involvement.
“I’ve been an officer three times for my chapter, and twice for district,” she said. “I’ve led workshops at leadership camps. As well as incorporating agriculture into that, we do a lot of community service, which is a huge goal of FFA.”
On top of being selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar, McGee is looking forward to the 2016-2017 school year, when she will serve as president of the Washington State FFA. She was one of six state officers elected earlier this month at the FFA state convention.
“I get to take a year off (from school) and represent and serve our 8,800 members in the Washington State FFA,” McGee said.
McGee said she is tentatively planning on attending the U.S. Presidential Scholars ceremony on June 19 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, where she will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.
“I’ll have to see how it works with my president (position),” she said, taking all her achievements in stride.