MIHS senior named U.S. Presidential Scholar

Dana Berejka, a senior at Mercer Island High School, has been selected as a U.S. Presidential Scholar.

Berejka is one of 161 American high school seniors who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, artistic excellence, leadership, citizenship, service, and contribution to school and community.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars will be honored for their accomplishments in Washington D.C., from June 24 to 26.

“Dana is an outstanding young woman who is energetic and reaches out to help improve her community,” said MIHS Principal Vicki Puckett. “She is so deserving of being a Presidential Scholar.” 

Dana plans to attend UCLA, majoring in International Development and minoring in some combination of Global Health, Gender Studies and Film. One of her aspirations is to work on documentaries, shedding light on issues like gender disparities in developing nations. While at MIHS, she worked on several short-film projects both in and out of school.

Dana is involved with MIHS leadership and is currently ASB public relations coordinator. She is co-president of the Gender Equality Club and Treasurer of S.A.F.E. (Sober Awesome Fun Events) Club, and also participates with Women in STEM Club and Natural Helpers.

Outside of school, she is a student representative for the Healthy Youth Initiative and participates with the mother/daughter organization, National Charity League.

She is completing her fourth year as a member of the MIHS varsity softball team.

Several years ago, Dana started a nonprofit organization called The Diane Foundation, in honor of her World Vision sponsor child who passed away from malaria. The Diane Foundation raises money for and awareness of malaria prevention. She has since, with a partner, started Knitting for Nets, where they sell Mercer Island crocheted spirit wear at Mercer Island games and on Etsy. All net proceeds go to buy mosquito nets.

Since 1983, each U.S. Presidential Scholar has been offered the opportunity to name his or her most influential teacher. Each distinguished teacher is honored with a personal letter from the Secretary of Education.

The teacher chosen for recognition by Berejka is Kara Millsap, her first-grade teacher at Lakeridge Elementary. Millsap is now the district’s elementary technology specialist.

Berejka wrote in her application about the impact Millsap had on her growing up.

“Mrs. Millsap was my first-grade teacher. But she has been so much more than that. “From the first day of first grade to now, she has been an important adult figure and role model in my life. Mrs. Millsap held fitness summer camps that helped empower young girls and always made sure they were happy and healthy.

“Upon graduation from high school, Mrs. Millsap sends you a letter with a first-grade class photo in it and a video of your first-grade year which includes all the students saying what they want to be when they grow up. No other teacher does this. No other teacher is like Mrs. Millsap.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects honored scholars annually based on their academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

The 2018 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large, 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, and 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in Career and Technical Education.

Created in 1964, the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program has honored almost 7,500 of the nation’s top-performing students with the prestigious award given to honorees during the annual ceremony in Washington, D.C.


Dana Berejka, right, with her first grade teacher, Kara Millsap.

Kara Millsap and Dana Berejka