Archie Rajender ’07 Named Presidential Scholar, Eighth Phillips Academy Finalist in Last 19 Years

Archie Rajender ’07 was recently selected as one of 141 Presidential Scholars from a field of 2.8 million graduating high school seniors in the United States for the 2006-2007 school year. The United States Presidential Scholars Program distributes the Presidential Scholar awards annually to one boy and one girl from each state, from the District of Columbia, from Puerto Rico and from United States citizens living abroad. The White House Commission of Presidential Scholars chose the selected students as individuals that demonstrate academic excellence and promise for the future. Since the Presidential Scholars Program was founded back in 1964, Andover students have been honored numerous times. Rajender is Andover’s eighth finalist in the last 19 years. Rajender was first selected for this competition, along with six other Andover seniors based on remarkable ACT and SAT standardized test scores. Rajender then completed a lengthy application and was named a semifinalist in late April. Rajender received a phone call last week from her dad in North Dakota who informed her that she was a Presidential Scholar. Rajender was thrilled when she found out that she had won the competition. She said, “I couldn’t believe it at first…and then I was just plain excited.” For winning the award, Rajender received an invitation to a trip to Washington, D.C. that will take place this summer from June 23 to 27. In Washington, Rajender will meet and socialize with the other winning scholars from across the country. Together, the 141 finalists will visit museums, attend concerts, enjoy dinners and listen to various speakers. The most significant part of the festivities will be the presentation of the Presidential Medallions that will take place at an event sponsored by the White House. For playing a role in Rajender’s accomplishments, Andover Biology Instructor Kristen Johnson will also be in Washington to receive an award. Dr. Johnson will receive a Teacher Recognition Award from the U.S. Department of Education. As part of the tradition of the Presidential Scholars Program, each student finalist may bring along a teacher who has made a lasting impact on his or her academic career. Rajender was a student of Dr. Johnson during her upper year in Advanced Placement Honors Biology and admired her passion for the subject. Rajender said, “I nominated Dr. Kristen Johnson for this honor, as she is the instructor who had the most significant influence on me during my high school years. Dr. Johnson opened my eyes to the wonders of every aspect of biology.” Rajender elaborated on her experiences with Dr. Johnson, saying, “[Dr. Johnson] didn’t just draw diagrams of the human heart on the white board or make us memorize the steps of cellular respiration—she would bring in specimens for hands-on learning, and teach us interesting ways to remember complicated biological processes.” Johnson said that she is honored to receive the Teacher Recognition Award. Yet, most of all, Dr. Johnson said, “I am very proud of Archie. She is a wonderful young woman with great potential in biology. I am happy that she has been recognized in this way for her dedication as a high school student.” Some of Johnson’s fondest experiences with Rajender include her great questions during class and her enthusiasm during the dissection of a cat. Next year, Rajender will attend Boston University and will matriculate directly into the seven-year Accelerated Medical Program. Rajender is sad about leaving Andover, as she said, “Andover has taught me to be organized and disciplined, and has prepared me for the rigors of college life.” At the same time, however, Rajender is thrilled to go attend Boston University next year. She said that, given her love for the city of Boston, choosing to attend BU was an easy decision.