When alumni of the revered Presidential Scholars program gather next week for the organization’s first-ever awards, the event will also honor a lifetime of work by a University of Georgia graduate.
The Presidential Scholars Honors Dinner takes place June 19 at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and among its alumni honorees—former Indiana Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove and Chief Judge Merrick Garland—is Felice Kaufmann, a leading researcher in gifted education. While Kaufmann is not an alumnus of the Presidential Scholars program, her work focusing on the first five classes of Presidential Scholars is groundbreaking among gifted education studies.
Now in its 53rd year, the Presidential Scholars program honors up to 161 graduating high school seniors from every state and U.S. territory who have distinguished themselves academically in the arts and/or in career and technical education fields. Each year, the Scholars meet in Washington, D.C., to receive medallions, meet with leaders and attend a performance of their peers. Presidential Scholars alumni represent a virtual “who’s who” of accomplished professionals across all fields.
Kaufmann is the first to receive the award in her name because she helps tie them all together, said John Knox, a UGA professor of geography and chair of the Presidential Scholars Alumni Association who helped organize the awards ceremony.
Kaufmann’s research on Presidential Scholars is one of only a few studies ever that examines academically “gifted” students over the long term. By following the Scholars for more than 40 years, she is an expert at understanding how these teens move through life and redefine what it means to be a success.