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Higher Education in Maryland

September 2008



For immediate release: September 18, 2008
Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
Communications: (410) 260-4511

Maryland’s Distinguished Scholars honored at ceremony
First Lady Catherine “Katie” O’Malley served as keynote speaker

ANNAPOLIS, MD (September 18, 2008) – The Maryland Higher Education Commission honored nearly 800 of the State’s best high school students at its annual Maryland Distinguished Scholar Recognition Day recently. The event was was hosted by Bowie State University.

MHEC’s most prestigious event of the year featured a stirring keynote speech by First Lady Catherine “Katie” Curran O’Malley and an address by Higher Education Secretary James E. Lyons, Sr., as well as remarks from BSU President Mickey Burnim.

The ceremony is a festive and popular event. Public and independent two- and four-year colleges and universities attended and participated in a college fair. There was also a Showcase of the Performing Arts. The acts featured dance, instrumental music, vocal music, and drama all performed by students from various Maryland high schools. An exhibit of artwork created by finalists in the visual arts category were on display all day for guests to enjoy.

“This was a day when some of the finest students in the State get to showcase their talent and receive recognition for achieving great success in the classroom,” Secretary Lyons said. “Having the First Lady, a strong advocate of education at all levels and the arts, as our keynote speaker was something special.”

The Maryland Distinguished Scholar Program honors Maryland high school juniors for superior academic achievement, for exceptional talent in the arts, or for achieving finalist status in the National Merit/National Achievement Scholarship Program. Students earning Distinguished Scholar Program Scholarships are those who are attending Maryland colleges or universities. The award amount is $3,000 per year and is renewable three times for a total value of $12,000. Three hundred-fifty new scholarships are awarded annually to Maryland residents.

Students are selected for this scholarship after meeting several criteria. High school guidance offices distribute applications/nomination forms for the Maryland Distinguished Scholar Program to Maryland juniors in their fifth semester of high school. Completed forms and documentation of academic credentials are sent to MHEC’s Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) by the March deadline.

In the academic achievement category, students are evaluated on two scales: by their cumulative unweighted grade point average (GPA) in academic courses and by their SAT, PSAT or ACT scores. Students are then selected in rank order and identified as Maryland Distinguished Scholar finalists, semifinalists or honorable mention students. For the 2008-2009 academic year, more than 4,000 students applied in the academic achievement category. Approximately 296 students were selected as finalists, 413 as semifinalists and 3,700 as honorable mention students.

Seven-hundred students participated in the Talent in the Arts Competition, featuring dance, drama, instrumental music, vocal music or visual arts. Students auditioned before a panel of judges who are professionals in their respective fields. Seventy-eight students were selected as finalists, 50 as semi-finalists and 572 as honorable mention students.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 326,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.






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