Ansh Patel of Riverview is one of 10 valedictorians at Grosse Ile High School this year. He’s also one of only two students in Michigan and 161 across the country to be honored this year as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.
“I was one of the 4,500 students nominated nationwide to apply for the program,” Ansh said.
He was among those nominated based on their high SAT scores. Other ways students can be nominated is by a chief state school officer or by an organization. Students of the arts, career and technical education may get nominated in other ways.
Once nominated to apply, candidates must submit essays, self-assessments and transcripts, as well as an application form for the Presidential Scholars Program.
Ansh’s GIHS administrators and teachers joined efforts to write a letter about him, as well, to add to his submission. Judges choose the winning scholars based on academic achievement, leadership qualities and community service.
Once chosen, honored scholars then are asked to choose a “distinguished teacher” who impacted their education. Ansh chose GIHS math teacher Brian Matusik, who said he was surprised and thrilled.
“I chose Mr. Matusik because he has always encouraged me to work hard and has tried his best to make learning an enjoyable experience,” Ansh said. “I have had Mr. Matusik as my teacher for longer than I have had any other teacher, and he has been a great inspiration to me over the years. He is always willing to help with anything and is very enthusiastic about what he does.”
The instructor praised the student in return.
“Ansh is an amazing, kind person,” said Matusik, who has been at GIHS since 1994 and teaches pre-calculus and advanced placement calculus. “I’ve had a lot of really talented, smart students, but this guy — he was always helping his classmates. He’s very genuine and super smart, but not afraid to ask if he doesn’t understand something.”
In a normal year, the winning scholars and distinguished teachers get a paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June. They attend a recognition ceremony and are presented with medallions at the White House, attend recitals and other ceremonies in their honor, and visit museums and monuments.
But this year has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the trip is off.
“This year, they will be mailing me and the other scholars our medallions and are planning to host an online recognition event,” Ansh said. “It is a huge honor for me to have the nation be proud of my hard work, but being a U.S Presidential Scholar is also very special because it brings together the 160 students nationwide who are driven and ambitious, so it will be really helpful to have that kind of network in the future.”
The son of Riverview residents Niketan and Pallavi Patel, Ansh plans to attend the University of Michigan School of Engineering in the fall.
“I am interested in operations
research and financial engineering because it combines my interests in math and engineering,” Ansh said. “I am also very passionate about robotics. I was the captain of our school’s robotics team this year, and after four years of FIRST Robotics, I can confidently say that it has been the most enriching experience of my life.”
Ansh attended a Montessori School in Southgate through fifth grade, then switched to Grosse Ile schools.
“During high school, I participated in varsity cross country and track and I enjoy running on my own, as well,” said Ansh, who also loves reading and music. “I want to thank my parents for always pushing me to be the best that I can be and my teachers for helping me achieve this great honor. They all have inspired me to work hard toward my goals over the years.”