When high school senior Angela Francis takes a picture, she captures not only a particular moment in time, but also “the feelings and emotions of her subjects, whether she’s taking pictures of students having fun at a school dance or during an athletic competition,” according to teacher John Hong, Francis’ yearbook and school newspaper advisor at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance.
Francis, a talented published photographer, has had several of her photographic works featured on the New York Times’ website for a series titled “My Hometown,” in the Venice Arts’ 2014 Student Exhibition, and other venues.
And most recently her exceptional talents earned her a rare national recognition: Francis was named a 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholar, becoming one of only 141 high school seniors in the country to receive this prestigious title for the past academic year for their outstanding accomplishments in academics and/or the arts.
This year’s honorees — announced May 6 by U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — are the 50th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars. Francis was selected for the award from nearly 4,000 qualifying nominees nationwide. In addition, she was one of only 20 students from the National YoungArts Foundation to be named Presidential Scholars for 2014.
All 141 winning students will each receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion during a June 22 ceremony in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the White House. In addition to receiving the Presidential Medallion, Francis will have some of her photographs showcased at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and at the Smithsonian Institution during its “Exhibition of Works by 2014 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts” (which will be on display through Aug. 7).
“I could tell from her freshman year that Angela was very talented; she always had so much creativity and artistic talent, and it showed in her photographs,” Hong told The Tidings. “I have always been amazed by her dedication to her craft.”
For Francis, being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar “is truly an honor, and I’m really excited to be a part of something like this.”
“It feels good to have my voice heard and be able to share my gifts with others,” said Francis, adding that she hopes other students reading her story will be encouraged to “pursue their dreams” as well.
“My message to them is that they should go for it and follow whatever their calling is, and not let anyone tell them otherwise,” she said. “If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be receiving this honor.”
—Maria Luisa Torres