All in the family: the Presidential Scholars
Academic success is a family affair for the Niewoehners. With not one, but two daughters designated as U.S. Presidential Scholars in the last recent years, it is clear that this close-knit clan from Hawkeye is doing something right.
This month, 17-year-old high school graduate Molly Niewoehner was named as one of Iowa’s three U.S. Presidential Scholars for 2021. She joins her sister, Megan, who was awarded in 2019, as a student recognized for her outstanding achievements in career and technical education (CTE).
“I’m really proud,” said Niewoehner’s mother, Gina. “It’s a pretty amazing accomplishment for both Molly and Megan.”
Niewoehner and her sister both received accolades for their individual academic work in agriculture-based CTE courses at Sumner-Fredericksburg High School, but their career paths are different. Megan Niewoehner is currently at Iowa State University studying agriculture and finance and hopes to become an agriculture loan officer in the future. Meanwhile, Niewoehner has mapped out her next steps after high school to continue on her path towards her lifelong career goal.
“I’ve always wanted to be a veterinarian,” Niewoehner said. “I’ve taken courses in animal science, beginning ag and food science and safety to help me work towards that.”
Niewoehner’s work in CTE courses has already put her ahead of schedule for her career plans, too. During a busy senior year of impressive extracurricular duties – including serving as FFA and 4-H president and being a three-season athlete, show choir participant and National Honor Society member – she has already been able to earn one full year of college credits through agriculture-centered courses offered at her high school and Hawkeye Area Community College.
In the fall, she plans to continue her second year of college courses at Des Moines Area Community College, where she is an FFA Mark Pearson Scholarship recipient, and transfer to Iowa State University in 2022-23 for the animal science and pre-veterinary program.
For the Niewoehners, their high achievements with agriculture courses and academics in general can be attributed to the hard work of the individual women as well as to the nurturing support from their family. When asked about the success of her children, including eldest daughter and accomplished agronomist Macy, Gina Niewoehner gave sage advice.
“We are involved in their lives and made them feel like they could still do things with us. We’ve always done a lot as a family.”
The U.S. Presidential Scholar is a prestigious designation given annually to high school seniors across the country who display high achievements in academics, the arts and career and technical education. Awardees are comprised of at least one male and one female student from each state as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and families living abroad.