Poet Kate Monaghan ’04 was one of 141 students nationwide to be selected as a Presidential Scholar and one of only 20 Presidential Scholars in the Arts. The honor is awarded for distinctions in academics and the arts, as well as in leadership and in civic values. The winners will be recognized at National Recognition Week in June. The Presidential Scholars Program is a national recognition program given by the U.S. Department of Education to celebrate some of the nation’s most accomplished graduating high school Seniors. Monaghan first had to pass through the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts’ (NFAA) Arts Recognition and Talent Search (ARTS) program. From among 6,000 applicants, 125 finalists were selected to attend National ARTS Week in Miami, FL in early January. At the end of the week, the judges chose 50 ARTS scholars, who moved on to the semifinals of the Presidential Scholar Competition. The ARTS semifinalists constituted a diverse group of writers, visual artists, musicians and performing artists. After submitting their applications, they passed through another round of judging, which narrowed the group to 20 people who became Presidential Scholars in the Arts. Monaghan was one of only 3 poets to receive this honor. “I think it’s really awesome that the [Presidential Scholars Program] recognizes artists. It really makes a difference to aspiring artists, and even better, we all get to meet other people who can really impact our lives,” said Monaghan about receiving the distinction. Monaghan described meeting another writer during ARTS week who was not selected as a Presidential Scholar because he did not meet the program’s requirement for a minimum C average. Though some artistic students do not do well in school because their passions take them in a different direction, Monaghan later discovered that her friend did not go to school because he worked two jobs to support his family. She also explained that the best part of the program was being in a group of truly diverse and talented people who made it on their own steam. “Everyone always says how if we didn’t have affirmative action and all sorts of programs to ensure equal opportunities for minorities, that we would live in a homogenous society,” she said. “However, in the ARTS program, finalists were selected without judges even knowing their names, and yet the people I met in Miami made up the most diverse group I have ever been in,” she continued. Monaghan, who has been writing since age six, entered the ARTS competition at the suggestion of her poetry teacher at St. Anne’s School in Brooklyn, which she attended in the 9th and 10th grades. In 11th grade, she traveled to Beijing, China for School Year Abroad, where she gained experiences that have fueled many of her poems. Monaghan believes that travel has been the greatest influence on her writing. She has also journeyed to India, Thailand, Marrakesh, Slovakia, Bordeaux, Edinburgh, Salzburg, Hungary and other exotic locations.