Of the approximately 3.6 million students that graduated from high school this year, Newsome graduate Alex Dyer is in an elite group.
Dyer was one of only 161 high school seniors recognized as a U.S. Presidential Scholar, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.
The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects scholars annually in one of three paths of accomplishment: broad academic achievement, academic and artistic scholarship in the visual arts, the performing arts or creative writing or outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.
Dyer was one of two students in Florida (one male and one female) selected for his broad academic achievement. Take one look at his application and you can see why.
As the school’s valedictorian, he earned a weighted 9.68 GPA; took dual enrollment courses (worth 27 credits) at USF, earning a 4.0 GPA; volunteered at the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa; is an Eagle Scout and in the prestigious Order of the Arrow; was an officer in both the robotics and key clubs; and was a member of multiple honor societies.
Even though his resume is impressive, the other applicants were equally notable.
“When I found out I was a semifinalist for the award, I went online to take a look at my competition and they were all really impressive,” he said.
Dyer learned that he had been selected in an email from the Department of Education and a congratulatory tweet from Senator Marco Rubio.
“He came into my room and said he was the male chosen for academics,” said his mom, Dawn Dyer, PhD, a college professor. “He was just so thrilled to be nominated and we were filled with complete shock and gratitude when we found out that he had been selected from a group of really exceptional seniors.”
His mom said the award is a testament to his strong work ethic. “He had perfect attendance for his entire school career, he started the dual enrollment program before he could even drive and is just a genuine, caring person,” she said.
Typically, U.S. Presidential Scholars are guests of the Commission during the National Recognition Program and enjoy an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to meet with government officials, educators and others and are awarded the U.S. Presidential Scholars medallion at a ceremony sponsored by the White House.
Thanks to restrictions related to COVID-19, Dyer received his medallion in the mail, but that doesn’t minimize its meaning.
When asked what advice he could impart to those still in high school, he said that it’s never too late to set your mind to your academic goals. He didn’t set his mind to getting into Harvard until midway through high school, but once he set that goal he was like a force that could not be stopped.
“I spent a lot of my senior year studying and taking extra classes, but in the end, it was worth it,” he said. “The lessons I’ve learned I’ll carry with me throughout my life.”