PIQUA — The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the president, to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 2015, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education (CTE) fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.
Five Ohio CTE students are selected by the ODE state superintendent as semi-finalists for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program CTE category, and 20 finalists will be honored nationwide next spring for their achievements and accomplishments in career-tech education.
Ula Uluiviti Hicks, a senior in the Medical Careers Academy program at Upper Valley Career Center, is one of five Ohio semi-finalists.
Born in Fiji, at the age of 12 she moved to the United States after her mother died of cancer. Poor healthcare in Fiji motivated Ula to enroll into her career tech program in hopes of returning home, helping the Fijian community.
At school, Ula enjoys learning CPR, First-Aid, Medical Terminology, and she will earn her State Tested Nurse Aide (STNA) certification. Her dedication earned her induction into the Upper Valley Technical Honor Society and the Rotary Youth Leadership award. Further, she has accumulated 17 semester hours of college credit. Ula continues to impact the community by volunteering at in-patient care facilities.
Her passion for helping others led her to SkillsUSA. Elected as SkillsUSA Ohio Regional Secretary, she began creating her footprint in Career Technical Education. On Capitol Hill, she advocated for SkillsUSA and CTE, explaining the impact students like her make. This experience developed a passion to do even more. She was recently elected as the SkillsUSA National Region Three Vice President and now diligently works with her team of fourteen students to be the voice for career tech students across the nation.