Jackson Walker, a graduating senior at Wilton High School, has been named one of 722 semifinalists–and one of only 12 in CT–in the 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The semifinalists were selected from nearly 5,100 candidates expected to graduate from U.S. high schools this year.

Inclusion in the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, now in its 53rd year, is one of the highest honors given to graduating high school seniors. Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character and involvement in community and school activities.

Walker has been heavily involved with student government, serving as class president of the Class of 2017 for three years before being elected president of the entire student body in his senior year. He is a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, and is president of the WHS Band as well. Last fall Walker was featured in Westport, Weston, Wilton Magazine‘s annual “Ten Teens to Watch” issue.

Outside of school, Walker was selected to intern at the Yale School of Medicine through the Discovery to Cure Program last summer, at the Mor Lab of reproductive immunology and ovarian cancer. He achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 20 last year.

In the fall, Walker will matriculate at Harvard as a member of the Class of 2021. He plans to be a pre-med major with a concentration in chemical and physical biology, and he aspires to one day be an oncologist.

According to a release from U.S. Department of Education, “the 722 semifinalists were chosen by a distinguished panel of educators. The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of up to 32 eminent citizens appointed by the President, will select the finalists–up to 161 U.S. Presidential Scholars, chosen from among the year’s senior class, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the 2017 Scholars in May.”

The Scholars will be invited to Washington, DC in June for the National Recognition Program to receive the Presidential Scholar Medallion at a White House-sponsored ceremony and to participate in events and activities.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by a presidential Executive Order to recognize some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in academics, leadership and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields.