Two NJ county vocational-technical school students honored as 2018 Presidential Scholars

June 6th, 2018

Katherine Dai, of Glen Rock, who attends the Bergen County Academy for Medical Science Technology, and Deven Singh, of Manalapan, who attends the Monmouth Academy of Allied Health & Sciences, have been selected as Presidential Scholars by the US Department of Education.

The award, one of the most prestigious academic honors in the national education system, is given annually to only 161 high school seniors from throughout the country.  Katherine and Deven are among five New Jersey students who will receive the award at a ceremony in Washington, DC, on June 24.

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

Katherine’s award recognized her general academic and personal achievements.  Deven’s award recognized his
ability and accomplishments in a career and technical education field.

Presidential Scholars are also invited to nominate teachers who inspired them for special recognition under the program.  Katherine nominated her biology teacher, Donna Leonardi, and Deven nominated his biology teacher, Richard Tempsick.

Katherine Dai

It was in a research lab at the Bergen County Academies that Katherine discovered her passion for the biological sciences.   Deeply committed to exploring the field of oncology and cancer research, she has recently designed a cancer drug that she plans to patent, and has been recognized as an International BioGENEius finalist, a Siemens semifinalist, and a Regeneron STS semifinalist.

Envisioning a future for herself in intellectual property law, Katherine plans to study biology at Yale and eventually attend law school.

Outside of the lab, she is a committee member of a local science fair, a mentor for young researchers, an intern at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the founder of a community service project dedicated to creating patient care packages for local hospitals.  Katherine also enjoys fencing on her school’s Varsity team, figure skating, playing piano, and photography.

Deven Singh

Through his academics, extracurricular and community service, Deven Singh has always found a way to blend his passion for healthcare in all that he does.

He will be attending Rutgers University this fall as a member of the Honors College and as a recipient of the Rutgers Presidential Scholarship.  He has also been accepted into the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), Class of 2026.

As an undergraduate and medical student, he plans travel abroad and engage in international public health initiatives in partnership with the Rutgers Global Health Institute and the RWJMS Office of Global Health.

In addition, Deven will continue his work with Professor Dietrich Egli of Colubmia University on the first US clinical trial on mitochondrial replacement therapy.

The US Presidential Scholars Program

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.


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