Skip To Main Content

Mobile Header

 Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw with Jacob Chen '24 receiving his Seal of Biliteracy

Jacob Chen’s grades and high school resume are nearly ridiculously perfect.

Through his junior year, the Providence Day senior earned nothing but A-pluses in course loads containing 12 total Advanced Placement classes. He’s earned the highest grade on multiple AP exams.

photo collage of Jacob Chen photos

Jacob’s grade point average is 4.815, earning him the honor of being the Class of 2024’s valedictorian.

His achievements outside of the classroom are impressive, too: he’s a leader of the school’s Science Olympiad Team, embarked on several independent computer coding projects, and, as an avid gamer, helped start Providence Day’s first esports team.

Now, Jacob is the third student in school history to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. The program was established in 1964 to recognize and honor some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. Jacob is one of 160 total students to receive the honor this year.

“I feel incredibly honored to be selected for this award, and honestly wonderfully surprised,” Jacob says. “More importantly, I'm super thankful for all of the people that have supported my academic journey up to this point, teachers, family, and counselors, because I couldn't have done it without all of the time and effort they've poured into my education.”

Jacob is involved in groundbreaking computational biology research with Dr. Elizabeth Cooper at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, analyzing genetic mutations in cereal crops, specifically sorghum, to increase crop yields to keep pace with global warming trends.

“My philosophy toward school and now thinking about college has always been to find a personal passion for what you are studying and, although sometimes cliche, always try your best in everything you explore,” he says. “That way, I believe that awards and success will come by first having a genuine interest in what you pursue and less because you are trying to win an award.”

Jacob is also active in his church, serving as an usher, and is a part of the Gamers Outreach initiative that refurbishes donated gaming consoles for local childrens’ hospital wings.

He is a three-year member of the Charger cross-country team.

“Jacob is a rare talent,” says Jack Whelan, Providence Day’s Director of College Guidance. “His academic potential is unmatched, and he couples his intelligence with initiative, diligence, and selflessness. …Jacob is incredibly thoughtful, humble, even soft-spoken, but he is an able leader.”

Jacob plans on attending Duke University in the fall to study biology and psychology. He says at Providence Day, he gained the tools required to “be an academic of the future.”

“I've certainly learned time-management skills with sports and other extracurriculars, as well as patience in a very community-oriented school,” he says. “I'm deeply appreciative of all of the exciting opportunities for both service and academics that the school provides.

He continues: “The diverse class offerings have allowed me to explore new fields. Through these, I've been able to reach my goal of being a well-rounded student prepared for the future, and that's probably what I would say is the greatest thing I learned at Providence Day: well-roundedness.”

Above photos clockwise from top left: Jacob Chen '24 being presented with the U.S. Presidential Scholar Award with Head of Upper School Eric Hedinger, receiving his Seal of Biliteracy Award with Head of School Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw, and with group of Providence Day's National Merit Scholar semifinalists in September of 2023.