Vicksburg student named 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholar

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 16, 2015



The U.S. Presidential Scholars, an elite list of 141 American high school students, have been announced, and joining 140 other top students this year on the list is Vicksburg’s own Luke Eckstein, a senior at St. Aloysius High School.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the students have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service and contribution to school and community.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards and commit themselves to excellence,” Duncan said. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government—to name a few. Their academic and artistic achievements reflect a sense of purpose that we should seek to instill in all students to prepare them for college, careers, civic responsibilities and the challenges of today’s job market.”

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The 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

Eckstein, Mississippi’s male Presidential Scholar said he was invited to apply for the award after he made a 35 on his ACT.

“There were four essays and a lot of listing and references required,” he said of the intensive application process.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington D.C., from June 21-23.

“It’s a huge honor,” he said. “We get to go to the White House. Last year they got to meet the First Lady, so anything like that would just be really exciting.”

St. Aloysius principal Jules Michel said it’s hard to find words for Eckstein.

“He’s probably the most talented all-around student I’ve ever had,” he said. “He is the epitome of an all-around catholic school student.”

Michel said Eckstein is one of the most humble young men he has ever met, and the most dedicated to his country, community and family he has ever seen.

“He’s there, you can ask him to do anything, he’s at church before school, and he’s just what every parent would want their kid to be,” he said. “On top of that he’s going to spend his life or at least part of his life serving his country. You couldn’t ask for any more.”

Since 1983, each Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education.

The teacher chosen for recognition by Eckstein was Dawn Meeks of St Aloysius High School.