RUSTON, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Cedar Creek School senior student Devika Dua has been named as one of more than 5,000 candidates in the 2023 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. This program represents one of the nation’s highest honors for graduating high school seniors.

“I was like oh my God, I got a presidential scholars award. Out of the entire nation, it is definitely very overwhelming, you know,” said Dua.

Although, students don’t apply for the honor, rather, they are nominated by the top education officer in their state. The candidates were selected from nearly 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in 2023.

“I never thought that it would actually happen to me or in any kind of way, but I got a nomination, and I was very very surprised and happy about it,” explained Dua.

Scholars are selected based on academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in school and community activities. And Dua is no stranger to these achievements.

She is the current Louisiana DECA Vice President of Leadership and founded the Cedar Creek Medical Club. She is also involved in research through an internship at the Cellular Neuroscience Lab. And independent projects that have earned her 2nd place at the National Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting 2022, just to name a few.

“It began with medicine, and then I found my interest in medicine about right after Covid hit. And that’s when I wanted to start my research on Covid,” said Dua. I contacted a professor at Louisiana Tech to do research with him, and that’s when I started my medical scientific journey.”

A journey that will be reviewed by a distinguished panel of educators. They will review those submissions and select approximately 600 semifinalists in early April.

“I’m currently working on an application due on February 22nd, so just putting all those extra curriculums and essays,” said Dua.

This passionate 17-year-old senior hopes by winning this award she will be able to inspire other people to make a change in their community.

“People might say things, people might just be like that is not what I would do, you know, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is what you love to do and what you want to pursue and how this makes you a better person.”

The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists, and the U.S. The Department of Education will announce the scholars in May.