Trio of public school seniors named semifinalists for U.S. Presidential Scholars Program


The Department is pleased to announce that public school seniors make up half of the Hawaii semifinalists for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Nicole Fernandez of Radford High, Trent Hori of Maui High, and Viola Mocz of Mililani High are among 565 students chosen nationally on the basis of superior achievements, leadership qualities, personal character, and involvement in community and school activities.

From left: Nicole Fernandez, Trent Hori and Viola Mocz.

Nicole Fernandez has excelled in multiple areas throughout her four years at Radford High, all while volunteering at the Honolulu Zoo and the Newtown Veterinary Clinic for the past year. She has been involved with Radford’s National Honor Society and the Interact Club. Last year, Nicole received a commendation from the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. Following her graduation on May 23 as one of eight Radford valedictorians, she plans to study animal biology at the University of California-Davis, and continue her studies at a school of veterinary medicine.

The only Hawaii semifinalist from the Valley Isle, Trent Hori has excelled in the classroom in addition to being an Eagle Scout, all-state bowler, a member of the Hawaii All-State Band that performed at the Rose Parade this past January, a member of the Maui High baseball team, and a volunteer for many community causes. In 2013, he served as a senior intern for Sen. Brian Schatz in Washington, D.C. Trent will graduate May 24 as a valedictorian from Maui High and study electrical engineering at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Throughout her distinguished academic career, Viola Mocz has won numerous state and national accolades including being named a finalist in the 2014 Intel Science Talent Search, 2013 and 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, and 2011 Seimens Competition in Math, Science and Technology. Additionally, Viola was recently in Washington, D.C. competing in the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. She will graduate May 25 at the top of her Mililani High class of 625 seniors, and has committed to attending Princeton University.

“This is a tremendous honor for Nicole, Trent and Viola, each of whom represent the epitome of excellence in the Class of 2014,” said Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “We are so very proud of them and wish them continued success in their post-secondary endeavors.”

The other three students from Hawaii named as semifinalists include Matthew Beattie-Callahan and Spencer Kiehm of Iolani School, and Lysha Matsunobu of Parker School on Hawaii Island.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors. Each year, up to 141 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 255 schools and 33 charter schools, and serves more than 185,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii’s public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers.

Contact Information

Donalyn Dela Cruz

Phone: 808-586-3232


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