Amy Zhang among Mississippi's Nine U.S. Presidential Scholar Semifinalists

JACKSON, Miss. –  The Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) announced today that the outgoing Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) senior student representative Amy Zhang of Starkville is one of nine Mississippi students selected as semifinalists for the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. The program honors the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors.

Amy attends the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus. She was appointed as the SBE junior representative in 2020. 

Mississippi’s other U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists for 2022 are listed below:

  • Dia Chawla of Pillow Academy in Greenwood
  • Kylar DeLoach of Enterprise High School in Enterprise
  • Jeffrey Jordan of Jackson Preparatory School in Jackson
  • Sarah Leroux of Madison Central High School in Madison
  • Madeline Pitre of Biloxi High School in Biloxi
  • Wesley Smalley of Florence High School in Florence
  • Ritchie Yang of Petal High School in Petal
  • Yujie Yang of Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg

Madeline and Ritchie, along with Amy, are also members of MDE’s Student Advisory Council.

Mississippi’s semifinalists were selected from among more than 5,000 candidates nationwide. A total of 620 high school seniors were selected as semifinalists for 2022. These students form the pool from which the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be chosen.

The 2022 Presidential Scholars are chosen on the basis of their accomplishments in many areas – academic and artistic success, accomplishment in career and technical fields, leadership, and involvement in school and the community. The scholars represent excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s young people.

“Mississippi is represented well among the nation’s top high school scholars once again,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “I join with these students’ families, teachers, schools and communities in congratulating them for receiving this national recognition.”

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program honors the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in D.C. The program was later expanded to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the arts and career and technical education fields. The 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars will be announced in mid-May.



We are pleased to announce the creation of the first Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS) alumni award, which will be presented in March of 2019 during the MSMS Alumni Weekend.  The award will be named in honor of Charles E. Brown.


Mr. Brown served as the second Director for Academic Affairs from 1990 to 1993.  In the 2001-2002 school year, Mr. Brown spent a short period of time filling in on an interim basis as Director for Academic Affairs.  Heeding the call from MSMS for assistance again, Mr. Brown returned to MSMS in the fall of 2007 as interim Director for School Advancement.  With a strong desire to see continued success of MSMS in transforming the lives of some of Mississippi’s most gifted students, Mr. Brown applied for and was hired as the fifth Executive Director of MSMS, where he served until 2013.  In total, Mr. Brown served approximately 34 years in public education, 10 of those years with MSMS.

Mr. Brown is considered a legend to many of the alumni and parents of alumni whose lives he touched.  He was a visionary leader who understood that the continued existence of MSMS is dependent on the success of alumni.  Thus, he worked hard to engage alumni and offer opportunities for them to reconnect with the school.  Mr. Brown’s passion for MSMS was unparalleled, which is evident in his commitment to coming out of retirement twice to serve in various roles.  Mr. Brown died in May of 2017, but his life and legacy will be commemorated through this award. 

The Charles E. Brown Alumnus of the Year Award has four purposes:

1.     To commemorate the legacy of Charles E. Brown

2.     To make current students and alumni aware of how important their contributions are to MSMS and the state of Mississippi

3.     To highlight and promote the contributions of MSMS alumni to the state of Mississippi and the nation

4.     To encourage alumni to remain active in events and activities of the school

To be eligible for the award, the nominee must meet the following criteria:

1.     Be an MSMS graduate

2.     Continued to exhibit the four ideals of scholarship, creativity, service, and community

3.     Consistently supported the school with his/her time, talents, and/or resources

4.     Significantly impacted the state of Mississippi and/or the nation

We will begin accepting nominations at the beginning of January.  The call for nominations will include specifics of what should be included when submitting nominations. 

We look forward to learning of all the great successes of our alumni.