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Springfield Student Awaiting Word on US Presidential Scholars Finals

Spenser Pulleyking
Photo courtesy of Spenser Pulleyking

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by Executive Order of the President to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.  Each year, up to 141 students are named as U.S. Presidential Scholars, which is one of the highest honors for high school students.

A Springfield student is in the running for that prestigious honor.

Spenser Pulleyking, a senior at Central High School, has been named one of about 550 semifinalists in that program out of more than 3900 who applied.  He says he applied for it not expecting to hear back, but he’s excited that he did.  He’ll find out soon if he will be named a finalist and travel in June to Washington D.C. to receive the award.

U.S. Presidential Scholars are selected based on superior achievements, leadership qualities, personal character and involvement community and school activities.

Pulleyking was named a finalist in the Coca-Cola Scholars program—he went to Atlanta recently where he got to meet Tom Brokaw.

AND he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT…

"That was an absolute shock.  A lot of the things that have happened this year I'm incredibly humbled by, but that was an absolute shock.  I had no idea that was going to happen because statistically it's not only difficult, it's also just improbable, but I was very happy about that and, yeah, that was a total surprise," he said.

Pulleyking attended the Middle Years Scholar Program at Central and stayed there for high school.  He says that laid a good foundation for his success…

"It's the education and quality of education especially here at Central that I've received--it's just the teachers are so incredibly nice and it's all about giving you not only the tools to learn but also the motivation to succeed," he said.

He says his parents also have a played a big role in what he’s achieved so far…

"A lot, especially this year of what I've had the opportunity to do has come from my mom and dad who, you know, really pushed me to get all the scholarship applications in and to see the importance of that and then also they've helped a ton with the organization and the paperwork since I'm a bit of a disorganized person--I'm less of a linear thinker more of an all over the place kind of mind but definitely my family has been a huge help," he said.

He says his family helps him to not be too serious—he knows how to have fun.

Pulleyking plans to attend the University of Tulsa this fall where he’ll major in either biochemistry or biology, and eventually he’d like to go into medicine.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.