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2 Hawaii seniors earn high national honor for their academic achievements

He's one of only 161 selected by the U.S. Department of Education.
Published: May. 30, 2022 at 5:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two Hawaii students were selected to join this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars. The high honor is handed down by the U.S. Department of Education.

One of the winners is Kealakehe High School’s Kea Kahoilua-Clebsch, who excells in science and art. She’s preparing to study at Stanford.

The other winner selected is 18-year-old Sascha Pakravan.

Pakravan is a serious student even beyond the classroom. He runs words4, a non-profit that encourages children to read.

“It has become my passion. It has become my life,” he said.

The Punahou senior’s community service and academic achievements earned him a spot on this year’s U.S. Presidential Scholars list – a very prestigious award.

Some 5,000 students applied to the program. Sashca is one of only 161 selected.

“The office of Presidential Scholars really evaluates each student as a whole and as a person, not necessarily through a criteria of just scores and checklists,” he added. “It made me feel so emotional and so happy that I’m making a difference in not only in my community in Hawaii, but also throughout the country. To be recognized for that is really thrilling.”

When he heard he’d been chosen, the first person he told was Hermie Cheney, the Punahou teacher who had a big influence on his studies.

“It was funny. We both found out at the same time. I went over and we were both celebrating and having a good time together. We were both just overjoyed.”

Sascha grew up in bilingual home. He’s now heading to Harvard where he’ll continue running his reading non-profit.

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