Wilton High School senior Jackson Walker has received one of the highest honors for high school students in the United States — the title of 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Education names up to 161 “distinguished graduating high school seniors” as presidential scholars.

Jackson is one of three Connecticut students to be honored as a presidential scholar this year. The other two are students are from New Fairfield and Greenwich.

There are three paths of achievement through which students can become presidential scholars:


  • Broad academic achievement, like Jackson;

  • Academic and artistic scholarship in creative writing, visual or performing arts;

  • Outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.


To be eligible for the program, students must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident; graduate or receive diplomas during the current program year, and score “exceptionally well” on either the SAT or the ACT.

Students who meet program candidacy requirements are nominated through their chief state school officers — in Jackson’s case, Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell.

Nominated students then complete and submit essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports, and transcripts to be reviewed by a committee of individuals with secondary and postsecondary education experience.

The selection of approximately 4,000 candidates is generally based on SAT and ACT scores, according to the U.S. Department of Education website.

Approximately 800 semifinalists are named following evaluation and analysis of candidates’ essays, academic achievement, personal characteristics, leadership, and service activities by the review committee.

At Wilton High School, Jackson is student body president and a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, and the high school band.

Last year, he earned his Eagle Scout Award and was named Wilton High School's homecoming king. Jackson participated in Yale School of Medicine's Discovery to Cure Internship Program last summer and plans to attend Harvard University next year, where he plans to pursue medicine and medical research.

Information: www2.ed.gov/programs/psp/index.html.