Dulaney High School senior Kathy Yao was recently honored as a 2021 Presidential Scholar, which recognizes outstanding students for their accomplishments in academics, artistic and technical excellence and leadership.
Inducted as a part of the 57th class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, Yao was among just 161 high school seniors recognized nationwide and was one of only 20 to be honored for her achievements specifically in career and technical education.
Yao has excelled in academics, sports and music but she credits her experiences with the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) in leading her to this honor.
Despite being a self-described shy freshman, Yao decided to follow her brother Tony’s lead and join FBLA based on his great experiences of competing and attending conferences with the club. She got involved very quickly as she was elected to be the freshman vice president, a leadership position for ninth graders offered in Dulaney’s chapter of FBLA.
She got to see the ins and outs of FBLA and eventually served as a three-time state officer, including Maryland state parliamentarian, state vice president, and as the current state president of the organization.
Yao notes that FBLA helped her to branch out and grow as a person especially when the once shy freshman began addressing audiences of more than 1,500 people, hosting state leadership conferences with her fellow state officers and starting initiatives such as the Competitive Event Preparation Program.
She enjoyed many great experiences as a part of FBLA and most notably recounted attending the 2019 National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas with her state officer team. Yao recalled that “it was just such an eye-opening experience, as I was able to network with students all across the world, present leadership workshops, compete in competitive events, and of course, explore the city.”
Yao also had the chance to speak to thousands of students at the annual State Leadership Conference, a new experience for her, but despite her initial nervousness, it was a fun and enjoyable experience.
Overall, she said “my best memories in FBLA revolve around the people I was able to meet, as they all continually pushed and inspired me to continue growing as both a leader and an individual.”
Yao is also an accomplished musician on the violin and is involved with both the Dulaney Chamber Orchestra and the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra. She is on the varsity tennis team and has been an active volunteer with the Key Club.
She will attend the University of Chicago in the fall where she plans to major in economics with perhaps a double major in computer science. Right now, she hopes to pursue a career conducting research and teaching students as a college professor, but like for most college freshman, it is subject to change. Congratulations to Kathy on all your achievements and high honor of being recognized as a Presidential Scholar.