It was just another normal school day for Olathe North High School senior Ryan Dahl until he got the news of a lifetime.
Dahl was using a free hour during the school day to log onto his computer to check a website. That’s when he got the good news: He had been chosen as a 2014 Presidential Scholar.
“I checked the Presidential Scholar website and I clicked the link and scrolled down to Kansas,” Dahl said. “Words cannot even describe how excited I was when I found out. A couple of friends were with me and they saw me with this funny smile.”
Dahl and Blue Valley Southwest High School senior Katie Super were the two students from Kansas to receive the award, which is given to one male and one female student from each state.
The two will be honored during ceremonies June 22-25 in Washington, D.C. Each will be presented with a Presidential Scholar Medallion.
This year’s 50th Class of U.S. Presidential Scholars will honor 141 of the best and brightest high school seniors from across the country. Competition is stiff for the elite award. Students are recognized for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, school or community activities or for demonstrating strong character.
Academics played a big part in Dahl being chosen as one of this year’s Presidential Scholars. He earned a perfect score of 36 on his ACT, which led the way to his nomination for the Presidential Scholar award.
“It’s one of the highest honors you can receive in this country,” Dahl said. “I’m really blessed to be a part of it.”
The award is just one of many for the highly accomplished teen. Dahl has been awarded the Cornelius Vanderbilt full-tuition scholarship at Vanderbilt University, where he will begin attending in the fall as a pre-med student. Dahl was named both a Kansas Honor Scholar and a Coca-Cola Scholar. He was also one of three winners in this year’s Greater Kansas City Science and Engineering Fair.
Dahl say s he owes his success to his lifelong dedication to academics.
“Overall, I think part of the reason I got this is because of all the hard work I put in,” Dahl said. “Spending all those long nights at the lab or studying for tests. It’s really great to be acknowledged for all of the work I’ve done.”
Katie Super of Blue Valley Southwest agrees that hard work definitely put her in a position to win this year’s Presidential Scholar Award. But she said she knows that there is sometimes even more to it than hard work.
“I feel very happy that I’ve gotten this opportunity,” Super said. “But through this whole process of applying, there is a large amount of luck involved. And I’m grateful that I’ve been so lucky.”
Super was buying her mom a Mother’s Day gift when she got an email on her phone letting her know she had been named a 2014 Presidential Scholar.
“It took me a while to realize I won it,” Super said. “It took a day or two for it to sink in that I am now going to Washington, D.C. I’ve never been to D.C.”
Super’s high score of 35 on the ACT helped her gain the nomination for the Presidential Scholar Award. In addition to her academic success while in high school, Super has also found success as a debater. She’s won the Kansas state debate tournament twice.
Her love of debate has inspired her future plan to go to law school. Super will begin college in the fall at Wake Forest University in North Carolina where she will major in political science and Latin American studies.
While Super is proud of her success, she is quick to give credit for it to the example her parents set for her while she was growing up.
“Academics is something my parents have taught me is important,” Super said. “I really enjoy learning, even though all of the studying can get pretty stressful. There is a certain element of satisfaction that I take away knowing I learned something.”