Steamboat Springs High School student invited to apply for prestigious scholarship |

Steamboat Springs High School student invited to apply for prestigious scholarship

Emi Cooper was invited to apply for the prestigious United States Presidential Scholars Program. (Photo courtesy of Emi Cooper)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Emi Cooper was overjoyed when she opened the white envelope in her mailbox inviting her to apply for the United States Presidential Scholars Program — a prestigious scholarship program.

From the 4,500 who have the opportunity to apply, only a small pool from the nearly 3.6 million graduating seniors — 160 to be exact — are selected for a financial scholarship and are invited to Washington, D.C., in June for the national recognition program, which includes events and enrichment activities that culminate in the presentation of the Presidential Scholars Medallion during a White House-sponsored ceremony.

Cooper, a Steamboat Springs High School senior, was asked to apply based on her SAT score of 1550, which is in the 99.77th percentile. Her selection will be based on recommendation letters from teachers as well as transcripts and personal essays.

“It’s really competitive, but I’m just excited that I get to apply for it,” Cooper said. “I was a little confused but pretty excited when I got that letter.”

Petra Chladek, Cooper’s mother, said her daughter has had a lifetime of academic achievement, and she was not surprised to learn she had receive the letter.

“She has been really high achieving from the beginning, and when she makes up her mind to do something, she does it,” Chladek said.

Cooper has applied to several colleges in Colorado, Illinois and Washington, D.C., as she hopes to study climate activism and work in public policy.

“I’m trying to make the world a better place from a climate perspective,” Cooper said.

Her interest in climate change began when she read “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet,” a book detailing what could happen to the Earth if humans do not begin taking stronger action on climate change.

“I’m really passionate about the environment and fighting climate change,” Cooper said.

Cooper has expressed her activism throughout her time at Steamboat Springs High School, participating in a global walkout in 2019 with other high school students, receiving an award from the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and writing letters to the editor in the Steamboat Pilot & Today outlining the urgency of climate action.

“We need activism now more than ever,” Cooper said in 2019. “We need systemic change.”

If she is selected for the scholarship, Cooper said visiting the White House and getting to meet with lawmakers and like-minded students would be one of her greatest honors.

“I love politics, and I love reading the news,” she said. “I’m excited to meet and be among other like-minded students.”

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the president to recognize graduating seniors for their accomplishments in academic success, leadership and service to school and community, according to a news release from the Department of Education.

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