Joya Ahsan Ahmad

Joya Ahsan Ahmad, a William Penn Charter School Senior from Mt. Airy, has been honored as both a 2011 U.S. Presidential Scholar and a Gates Millennium Scholar.

“This is a wonderful accomplishment for Joya,” said Penn Charter Head of School Darryl J. Ford. “The level of this achievement is only matched by the level of Joya’s commitment to everything that she does. Her hard work and talent have paid off.”

Joya, who plans to attend Columbia University in the fall, came to Penn Charter in kindergarten and in 13 years has distinguished herself both inside and outside of the classroom. She has a wide range of academic interests that range from philosophy, to foreign language – she has studied Latin, French and Bangla, the language of her parents’ native Bangladesh – to science.

Joya leads Quakers Dozen, the school’s select a cappella group, and played Dorothy in the PC production of The Wizard of Oz. She captains the girls cross country team and is also a local tae kwon do instructor.

Since her freshman year, she has been an active community service volunteer with three Penn Charter service partners: St. Francis Inn, Widener Memorial School and St. Vincent’s after school program. Joya plans to study biomedical engineering at Columbia and hopes to become a physician.

The 141 U.S. Presidential Scholars, created in 1964, include one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and from U.S. families living abroad. In addition, 15 are chosen “at-large” and 20 more are named Presidential Scholars in the Arts. The Gates program was established in 1999 and initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Joya was one of 1,000 Gates Millennium Scholars selected from a pool of 23,000 applicants, the largest and most competitive group of candidates in the program’s history.