Anthony Cheng has been making headlines for his academic exploits since 2010, when he took sixth place in the National Geography Bee. The Sandy resident — schooled at Peruvian Park Elementary, Midvale Middle and now Hillcrest High — went on to become the first student in the geography contest’s 25-year history to make it to nationals three times. Since then, he has earned top prizes at regional science fairs and myriad other events.
But even by Cheng’s standards, 2016 has been a banner year. In the past few months, the Hillcrest Husky was named a National Coca-Cola scholar, the mathematics category award-winner and the General Scholar of the Utah Sterling Scholars Program — and now, to top it all off, the honor of being named a National Merit Scholar and recipient of a 2016 Presidential Scholar Awards.
This year’s competition for National Merit Scholarships began in October 2014 when more than 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools took the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, which served as an initial screen of program entrants. Last fall, the highest-scoring participants in each state, representing less than one percent of the nation’s high school seniors, were named semi-finalists on a state-representational basis. Only these 16,000 semifinalists had an opportunity to continue in the competition. From that group, 15,000 students met the very high academic standards and other requirements to advance to the "finalist" level of the competition.
The Presidential Scholar Award is just as prestigious. Cheng is among 160 high school seniors nationwide, including four in Utah, chosen by the U.S. Department of Education for its most coveted award. “This year’s class of Presidential Scholars continues a more than 50-year trend of honoring students who have shown excellence in their educational, artistic and civic pursuits,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John King in a May 4 statement.
As prolific as Cheng’s academic accomplishments may be, just as impressive is his focus on community and service. Cheng tutors middle school students and devotes time to studying the environment and climate change.
It’s safe to say that the world better get used to hearing his name. We certainly can’t wait to see what he does next.
Photo Courtesy: Ravell Call/Deseret News.