Meet San Antonio's only 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar

Only 8 HS seniors from across Texas given award

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - It's one of the highest awards a graduating high school senior can receive -- the U.S. Presidential Scholar designation.

This year, Saint Mary's Hall senior Gabby Escalante has earned that designation.

Escalante is the only student to receive the distinguished honor in San Antonio, one of only eight in the state and one of 161 students from across the nation.

"Being selected as a scholar was just amazing," Escalante said. "I almost dropped my phone. My mom was with me. She almost started crying."

Escalante, a student at Saint Mary's Hall since the third grade, has not only maintained an A-plus average in all her honors classes, she's also on the editorial staff of her school's literary magazine, she's an avid dancer with a focus on ballet and modern dance, and spends hours practicing classical piano.

But it wasn't until she scored a 2400 on her SAT exam that she even thought about applying for the Presidential Scholar designation.

"It was a really lengthy application process," the senior said. "Ms. Jacobson, my math teacher, helped me out so much."

Through Escalante's recognition, her math teacher, Jennifer Jacobson, has also earned the title of "2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar Program Distinguished Teacher."

"I was thrilled to find out that Gabby had won this honor because she is so deserving," said Jacobson. "She has worked so hard to make the most of every opportunity provided by Saint Mary's Hall. She's probably my most accomplished student ever."

Escalante plans to attend Harvard in the fall and is thinking about majoring in biophysics or biomedical engineering. However, she said she's looking forward to receiving the presidential award next month.

"I'm feeling incredibly honored and humbled," Escalante said. "I know there are so many people who are so deserving of this, and so, part of me feels like I wish more people could have been included in it."

This year's ceremony is scheduled for June 8 in Washington, D. C. That's when Escalante will receive the Presidential Scholar medallion.

Escalante is the third Presidential Scholar chosen from Saint Mary's Hall. Two other students received the honor in 1995 and 2013.

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