To an impressive list of leadership positions and awards, Andrew Harris ’21 recently learned that could add one more distinction. On May 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Andrew is one of the 161 high school seniors chosen for the 57th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars.
Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors the nation’s top-performing students. This year, of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school, more than 6,000 qualified for the 2021 awards, as determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams, or through special nominations. Candidates were then invited to apply for the honor, and approximately 500 semifinalists were chosen from those applicants.
The finalists include two students from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and U.S. families living abroad. Another 15 were chosen at-large, while 20 were designated scholars in career and technical education, and 20 were named scholars in the arts.
Andrew is among those select scholars in the arts; his photographic portraits have won top honors in New York Times’ competitions, as well as from the Scholastic Art Awards, the National YoungArts Foundation, and the International Photography Awards. His outstanding exhibition, Mx Fam: My Voice, My Power, filled Middlesex’s Ishibashi Gallery in February 2020, and several images appeared in the Concord Public Library’s virtual exhibit last February.
For Andrew, photography offers a way to connect people with one another, as each portrait “not only identifies people’s uniqueness but what brings us together,” he observes. As a digital art form, it also intersects with his interest in computer science. At Tufts University next fall, Andrew will begin a five-year program culminating in two degrees: a B.S. in computer science and a B.F.A. in photography through the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.
Greatly valuing personal connection, Andrew appreciates everyone who has helped him along the way, giving “a giant thanks to Erika Prahl [dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion], Roan Callahan [visual arts faculty], Natalie Martinez [associate director of college counseling], and a lot of other people.”