Shelter Island High School senior Mia Clark was recently chosen to be one of 25 students from across New York State to become a “Presidential Scholar.”
This is not a scholarship program for which bright students apply. Rather it’s a “by invitation only” recognition that honors the most distinguished graduating high school seniors in the country based on academic achievements and leadership qualities.
Ms. Clark was selected as one of three nominees from the East End by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and ultimately became his sole nominee. Ms. Clark was then chosen by State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to compete for national recognition.
It’s not a done deal yet, with more information to come from Ms. Clark and Shelter Island School officials, but this intelligent, well-spoken and determined young woman could be on her way to Washington, D.C. in June to be honored with other high-achieving young scholars from around the country.
“I am delighted that Commissioner Elia has chosen one of our local students to be part of the 25 New York State high school seniors nominated for the program,” Mr. Thiele said. “I wish her luck as she moves to the national level as a finalist in this notable competition.”
Mr. Thiele added that Ms. Clark is “an outstanding scholar” with strong leadership qualities, compassion and extraordinary personal achievements.
The Presidential Scholars Program was established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964 to recognize outstanding high school seniors across the nation. Seniors’ grade point averages aren’t calculated until the end of the third quarter, but Ms. Clark had a 96.78 average at the end of her junior year at Shelter Island High School.
She was inducted into the National Honor Society as a junior and is president of the school’s chapter. She has been class treasurer for the past two years.
The top 10 girls and the top 10 boys, along with five students in career and technical education from New York, are in the running for the state’s honor.
“I’ve always had a plan,” Ms. Clark said about her direction through her school years, describing herself as “decisive.” She thinks that’s why she was elected president of the National Honor Society and class treasurer.
Learning that she has been invited to compete for the national honor is “incredible,” she said.
The 17-year-old senior will graduate in June and has applied to five colleges — Cornell, Mount Holyoke, the University of Vermont, Virginia Tech and Dickinson College — with one condition for wherever she lands: It must be in an area that’s “horse friendly,” since Hazel, her horse, will be going to college with her.
Loving horses is hereditary, she said, since both her mother and grandmother have been avid riders.
When she’s not studying or attending school activities, Ms. Clark can most often be found at Hampshire Farms where she’s on duty one or two nights a week tending to retired horses, some of which have medical issues that require her knowledge and caring.
It takes a lot of “hands-on experience” to ensure horses are healthy, she said.
Besides her love of horses and possible future as a veterinarian treating large farm animals, Ms. Clark is interested in science and works with other students in teacher Dan Williams programs, in what she describes as the “wet lab,” handling chemical or biological substances.
Last year, Ms. Clark participated in a veterinary career exploration program at Cornell Cooperative Extension.
She’s been a leader at the “Art in the Garden” program, teaching children drawing techniques; worked as a deck hand and office assistant at South Ferry; and as a barista and cashier at White Hill Cafe.
She enjoys reading and, when time allows, listening to podcasts, especially those that are funny, she said.