KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – A Knoxville valedictorian has been recognized the U.S. Department of Education as a 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholar, an honor bestowed on only 161 students across the country.

Photo: Knox County Schools

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced the 58th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars on Thursday, recognizing 161 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics, the arts, and career and technical education fields.

L&N STEM Academy Class of 2022 valedictorian Cristine Chen was one of three students from Tennessee to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. The Knoxville magnet high school was founded in 2011 and focuses on disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math in the Knox County School system

One young man and one young woman are selected from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 scholars in the arts and 20 scholars in career and technical education.

The 2022 scholars will be recognized for their achievement this summer with an online recognition program.

More than 5,000 candidates qualified for the 2022 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams or through nominations made by chief state school officers, other partner recognition organizations and YoungArts, the National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists.

“Our 2022 Presidential Scholars represent the best of America, and remind us that when empowered by education, there are no limits to what our young people can achieve,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Today, I join President Biden to celebrate a class of scholars whose pursuit of knowledge, generosity of spirit, and exceptional talents bring our nation tremendous pride. Throughout one of the most trying periods in our nation’s history and amid our recovery from the pandemic, our students have once again demonstrated their strength and that they have so much to contribute to our country. Thanks to them, I know America’s future is bright.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored over 7,900 of the nation’s top-performing students since its creation in 1964. The program was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields.