Emma Clayton, a senior at The ASK Academy in Rio Rancho, was recently named a Career and Technical Education candidate as part of the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

The Career and Technical Education candidates were nominated by their Chief State School Officers based on their accomplishments in career and technical education fields. Clayton was nominated by ASK Academy principal Nadyne Shimada.

When I was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar Candidate, I was shocked,” Clayton said. “I never thought I would be recognized nationally for my accomplishments. Out of 3.6 million high school seniors graduating this year, only 5,000 students receive this invitation.”

Of those 5,000 students, only a small group will be chosen as U.S. Presidential Scholars.

The U.S. Presidential Scholar Program is a multi-stage process,” Clayton said. “You first have to be nominated by a principal or CSSO. Following this, you will fill out an application and write multiple essays. After months of evaluation, semi-finalists will be announced in April, and finalists in May. Each year, up to 161 students are named Presidential Scholars. I hope to be one of their scholars.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to recognize the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in academic success, leadership and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields.

Clayton, who loves to sing, dance and play the piano, definitely has the resumé for the program.

My high school principal, Ms. Nadyne Shimada, nominated me because of my academic achievements and involvement in school and extracurricular activities,” Clayton said. “I am a student director in a local performance group. I serve in my school’s National Honor Society, Scholar Government and Model UN.”

Shimada had nothing but positive things to say about Clayton.

“Emma is an extremely talented scholar who has a deep understanding of what it means to be a good human being,” Shimada said. “She is kind, nurturing, compassionate, and empathetic to others.  She identifies needs, takes steps to fill those needs, and will assume leadership roles when necessary.  She embraces challenges and learns from mistakes and failures.  Emma is a cheerful presence who will brighten anyone’s day.”