The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


Northwest senior recognized as U.S. Presidential Scholars semifinalist

Senior Kevin Li was named as a semifinalist for the US Presidential Scholars program.
Li has competed in DECA all four years of high school, winning various regional and state awards (Courtesy of Kevin Li).
Li has competed in DECA all four years of high school, winning various regional and state awards (Courtesy of Kevin Li).

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program is a highly selective program that recognizes the nation’s most distinguished high school seniors and can be achieved through multiple rounds of selections. Senior Kevin Li is one of only 635 students nationwide selected who received the honor of being a semi-finalist, along with 6 other Kansas students. 

Li first found out he was eligible to apply for this program due to an email he received stating he was a candidate. To be a candidate, a student most commonly must score well on their ACT or SAT exam or be nominated by their Chief State School Officer or a Presidential Scholar partner organization. Li scored exceptionally on the SAT with a score of 1590 out of 1600, which is the reason he is a candidate.  

Li said he had low expectations while applying, but when he discovered he was a semifinalist, he was shocked. 

“I kind of just submitted the application without expecting much. I didn’t spend that much time on it, especially since the big portion of the application was just writing essays which I’d already done for all my colleges. So I pretty much just reused all of the essays that I wrote for college,” Li said. “I didn’t know how big of a thing being a semifinalist was [and] I wasn’t sure about the rounds they had to get through.”

Li’s mother, Xiaomei Guo, said she was not surprised Li was a candidate for the program since he scored well on the SAT exam. She was confident he would be eligible for the application round but was surprised when she found out he was a semifinalist. 

Guo described Li as a hardworking student and said she never really had to worry about how he was doing in school.

 “He’s very self-disciplined [and] he does things very organized. We don’t have to worry about his school stuff,” said. “He participated in many activities and he managed to

do them all. We’ve never worried about how he has been doing in school.”

As the program is highly selective, Li thinks he stood out because of his variety of interests, both inside and outside of school. He plays both tennis and volleyball, is the president of the BVNW Math Honors Society, is vice president of operations for BVNW FBLA, and is president of the Computer Science club. 

Outside of school, Li produces music and also has conducted research with a professor at the University of Kansas. His research ended up being published, tying into his interest in computer science. 

The U.S. Presidential Scholars program does not give semifinalists or finalists any specific benefits other than recognition. 

Li said this award would be something he just adds to his resume as it proves he performs at a high level and is qualified for certain positions—whether it is for a club in college or a job. 

Guo said she has not thought about how being a finalist would help Li, but said that it does not matter.

“I think being a semifinalist is already a big achievement for high school students, so it’s kind of a recognition already for what he has done in his high school life,” Guo said. 

“[It is] encouragement for him as well to continue his journey furthering college, so I don’t think at this point [becoming a] finalist or not is a big deal, but it’s going to be a great experience for him if he can make it.”

 Li is currently planning to attend the University of Pennsylvania and major in computer science. 


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About the Contributor
Sri Trikona
Sri Trikona, Writer
Sri Trikona is a sophomore and writer for “The Express.” This is her first year on staff. Outside of Newspaper Sri is involved in DECA, FBLA, KAY Club, and Team Up for St. Jude’s. In her free time Sri enjoys reading, spending time with her friends, and teaching students dance at her studio. She is so excited to start her journey in journalism and be a part of the newspaper staff. She hopes to improve her journalistic skills and meet new people. 
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  • Tanvi Sri KareMay 3, 2024 at 11:30 am

    W, amazing story Sri!