Freya Abraham

Freya Abraham, a graduate of Maricopa High School, has been named a U.S. Presidential Scholar, considered among the highest recognition in the country.

She is one of just three Arizona representatives on the list of 161 outstanding high school seniors from across the nation. Her selection was announced by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Abraham was the valedictorian of this year’s graduating class at MHS. She posted the highest GPA in the school’s history and became its most-decorated scholar.

Each Presidential Scholar can select their most influential teacher for a special distinction, and Abraham chose Bernadette Russoniello, who was her DECA advisor and is now the College & Career counselor for MHS. She will receive a personal letter from DeVos.

Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,300 candidates qualified for the 2020 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams, and through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, other partner recognition organizations or the National YoungArts Foundation’s nationwide YoungArts program.

“These exemplary young people have excelled inside the classroom and out,” DeVos said. “And, while they are facing unprecedented challenges as they graduate from high school into a world that looks much different than it did just a few months ago, their determination, resilience and commitment to excellence will serve them well as they pursue their next steps.”

The 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

Arizona’s other Presidential Scholars this year are Rithvik Reddy Musuku of Gilbert, attending BASIS Chandler, and Jake Okun of Scottsdale, attending Desert Mountain High School, and is the Career and Technology scholar.