Presidential Scholars cream of Vermont crop


Presidential Scholarships would pay full tuition for four of Vermont’s best and brightest high school seniors accepted in mid-December as early-admission applicants to Saint Michael’s College.

Though they have not made their college decisions yet, those offered full rides at St. Mike’s through the prestigious scholarships include: Anna Beach, an environmentally conscious cross-country captain and altar server from Barre; Sadie Kuhn, a student council president who’s also captain of her hockey and soccer teams in Woodstock;  Duy Pham, a “wicked funny” debater, “mathlete” and runner who says his favorite Colchester teachers were St. Mike’s alums; and Maddison McGuinness, an aspiring pediatric neurologist from West Rutland who plays basketball and softball and heads her school’s National Honor Society. Each is a student at his or her respective community’s public high school.

The Presidential Scholarship is a special award reserved for Vermont's top students attending Saint Michael's College. Awards begin at a minimum of $13,000 and go up to full-tuition – as with all four of this year’s recipients. The Presidential Scholarship can be renewed each year for a maximum of four years of full-time enrollment in good standing.

Here’s more about these four impressive young Vermonters offered Saint Michael’s Presidential Scholarships:

Anna Beach:

  • National Honors Society Vice President
  • Society of Women Engineers Award
  • Cross Country, Captain
  • Spaulding Action for the Environment Club
  • Works part time at Taste of the North Farm Market
  • Active in her local parish (Saint Monica Parish), she is an altar server
  • Attended Governor’s Institute of Vermont\
  • Her sister (Abigail Beach) is in the Saint Michael’s Class of 2021

Susan Chickering, Anna’s school counselor, wrote in a letter of recommendation, “It is rare that a student with her unique compassion, inquisitive nature and absolute love of learning comes along. She truly wants to make a difference regarding the environment.” In her application essay for the scholarship, Anna wrote: “Saint Michael's College is attractive to me because of its Catholic identity, location, liberal arts curriculum, and extracurricular opportunities. I know I would flourish in my faith and education because of these, and that I would be challenged to become a more vibrant, intelligent individual. Saint Michael's focus on volunteer service also interests me, as I love giving back to the community.”

Sadie Kuhn:

  • National Honor Society member
  • Student Council President
  • Rensselaer Medal Award
  • Hockey Captain
  • Soccer Captain

Chris Cate, Sadie’s school counselor, states: “Sadie has been an integral athlete on our ice hockey team but beyond that, she has always been an exemplary academic.  She is a three-season athlete who demonstrates great ability to manage her time and produce excellent grades in the highest level courses we offer. Each year she has maintained a course load beyond our required limit and this year she was selected to participate in the North American Hockey Academy where she will be out of our building for a better part of the year.  Despite her being away she is maintaining her academic excellence and honing her athletic skills. I have always seen Sadie as a no-nonsense person who takes her schooling and athletics seriously. In addition, she is a team player and genuinely cares about the well-being of others in the school and community.”

Duy Pham:

  • Member of the Track and Field and Cross Country teams
  • Debate club
  • Mathlete

Bob Hall, Duy’s school counselor, states: “Duy is a rare and special student. He is extremely bright; he is kind; with a dry sense of humor he is wickedly funny; and most importantly, he thinks. He is not the student who ‘does school’ to get the good grades required to keep his resume polished. He learns to learn; he yearns to understand.”

Duy wrote in his application essay:  “My interest in Saint Michael's College largely stems from how all of my favorite teachers from middle to high school are all Saint Michael’s alumni. I honestly cannot tell you where most of the adults I know went to college, but Saint Michael’s College alums stand out. The reason being is that they hold key leaderships positions in my school district. From administrators to heads of departments to professional development committees, Saint Michael’s College alums have risen to the most significant leadership positions in the school system. In conversations that I have had with my favorite teachers about the paths they took to get where they are today, they have expressed how beneficial it was to have both a close-knit community on campus and a great source of professors that were willing to help their students.”

Maddison McGuiness:

  • National Honor Society President
  • Basketball and softball team member
  • Works part time at Old Navy (store assistant manager)
  • Attended conference for future medical leaders
  • Class President

Maddison wrote in her scholarship application essay: “I aspire to be a Pediatric Neurologist. I believe that, in so doing, I can find ways to help children with behavioral disorders, mental disorders, and neurological diseases. I not only will get to view children from a medical standpoint, but a psychiatric standpoint as well. My primary goal is to help as many people as I can and to improve as many lives as possible. Through this career, I get to work in the field I love and to work with the people I want to help most.”

Kathleen Cunningham, Maddison’s school counselor, states: “Exceedingly self-motivated and disciplined describe Maddison. She will bring positive energy and strong leadership skills with her as a college freshman. She is one of a very few high school seniors that possess that level of maturity, common sensibility, and integrity. Maddison has shown time and time again that she has the innate leadership skills to work independently or as a team member to organize, delegate, and take on a challenge when it gets tough.”


To be eligible for the Presidential scholarship, students must be nominated by a Vermont high school and meet the following requirements: A- average or higher in a challenging college preparatory high school curriculum; Top 10% of graduating class; Combined 1800 SAT (three-section SAT taken prior to March 2016), 1300 SAT (two-section SAT taken after March 2016) or 27 ACT test scores or higher. In addition to SAT/ACT scores, GPA and curriculum, scholarship applicants are evaluated based on their leadership qualities, commitment to community service and potential to contribute to the Saint Michael's community.

Michael P. Stefanowicz ’09, director of admission for Saint Michael’s, said, “I am grateful to our school counseling colleagues in Vermont for nominating so many of Vermont’s best and brightest students for the Vermont Presidential Scholarship. Selecting Vermont Presidential Scholars was a particularly challenging task for the committee with so many impressive nominees.

He said that the four Saint Michael’s honorees, who receive full tuition scholarships, all exceeded the scholarship criteria “and are poised to engage deeply in our intellectual community.  I’m confident they will continue using their academic gifts in service to others, living out the mission of Saint Michael’s College.”


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