Ryan Park named a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar

Punahou Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Punahou senior Ryan Park ’19 has been named a 2019 U.S. Presidential Scholar, a distinction awarded to only 161 high school seniors nationwide. He is one of only three Hawai‘i students selected for the honor.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Park, who will be attending Stanford University in the fall and studying biomedical computation, said the announcement came as a thrilling surprise. “I was pretty shocked, but I feel especially honored because of how much I admired the past students from Punahou who won this award,” he said.

Some 5,200 candidates across the country were being considered for the 2019 awards, based on their outstanding performance on the College Board SAT and ACT exams or through nominations. “I have no doubt that many of tomorrow’s leaders are among this year’s class of Scholars,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in announcing this year’s recipients.

Park’s accomplishments, both academically and in the community, are vast. Along with being named a National Merit Scholar, he is president of Punahou’s math team and captain of both the science bowl team and the ocean science bowl team. He plays violin in Punahou’s Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Hawaii Youth Symphony. He received the 2019 Punahou Alumni Association Senior Award, and works as a research assistant at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center.

He also started a nonprofit and school club last year called HOPE (Helping Oncology Patients Everywhere). The organization, with 150 members, aims to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through hospital volunteering, fundraising and personal interaction. Park says the group, primarily Punahou students, do things like crochet hats and sweaters and raise money to buy gifts for patients at Shriners Hospital for Children and Queen’s Medical Center. Park was honored with The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his efforts to spearhead HOPE.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program will honor this year’s recipients at a June 23 ceremony in Washington D.C., where each honoree will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion.

Park has been invited to the ceremony along with Janet Oshiro, an Academy math faculty member. Park cited Oshiro as his most inspirational teacher. He says Oshiro worked with him so he could skip geometry honors during his freshman year and get on an accelerated math track. “She singled me out and really helped me move ahead,” he said.

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