As one of three 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars from Hawaiʻi, it is safe to assume that my plane ticket from Honolulu to Dulles was one of the more expensive tickets reimbursed by the program. From the day the list of Presidential Scholars was released to the moment I boarded my nine-hour flight, thoughts of the National Recognition Program (NRP), held each year in the nation’s capital, felt surreal—scenes of historic national landmarks and famed politicians from both CNN and “Cory in the House” filled my mind.
From attending the Medallion Ceremony to meeting the sitting President in the White House and my state’s elected officials on Capitol Hill, NRP was full of the unique opportunities that it had promised. On Sunday afternoon, Scholars checked in at Georgetown University and were introduced to their small-group “clusters” of students from similar regions. The first highlight of NRP was the Medallion Ceremony in the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, where Scholars and their guests were addressed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mick Zais.