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Petal graduate named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Ritchie Yang is one of only two Mississippi students selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - Ritchie Yang is now a graduate of Petal High School.

“Petal has been a place I have been able to call home,” Yang said.

Along with the achievement of getting his diploma, Yang has a list of other honors including Star Student of Petal. He explained what that means.

“You just have the highest ACT score in your school,” Yang said.

Yang’s latest distinction is a big one. He is one of only two Mississippi students selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

In total, across the country, 161 high school seniors are selected by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars every year.

Yang said the competition is tough. The commission looks at applicants’ academics, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations, transcripts and community service.

“I think it means a lot, not only just to win the award, but for Petal I’m the first Presidential Scholar in their history,” Yang said. “I think it means a lot to be able to represent not only myself and the state of Mississippi, but Petal School District and Petal as a whole.”

The honors will keep coming for Yang, this summer the Presidential Scholars Class of 2022 will gather virtually to be recognized.

“I’ll be able to meet with the rest of the Presidential Scholars,” Yang said. “There’s 161 in total so I’ll definitely be able to connect with those, and learn each of them and their story, where are they going to college, what they are learning.”

As for Yang, he won’t get a long summer break. He is headed to his next stop for a summer program.

“I am committed to Stanford University,” Yang said. “I am pursuing a double major in statistics and computer science and I’m also pursuing a coterminal degree with a master’s in business administration.”

Yang may be on his way to a big, bright future, but he said Petal will not be far from his mind.

He said he has a goal to come back to Petal as a philanthropist and bring resources and opportunities for future generations.

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