Yale-bound Centennial student named Presidential Scholar

Senior William Min is riding the ultimate hot streak at Centennial High School.

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Centennial High senior William Min poses outside his school Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Andrew Reed/ Idaho Ed News.

Just this month, William racked up two of the biggest academic achievements of his life. First, on May 4, William was one of two Idaho students who were named U.S. presidential scholars. William joins Boise High’s Sienna White in earning the honor, received by only 141 students nationwide.

Both will attend ceremonies in Washington, D.C., June 21, where they will be awarded the Presidential Scholars Medallion — and hopefully get the chance to meet President Obama or First Lady Michelle Obama.

William and Sienna were eligible to apply based on their SAT or ACT scores, and then submitted multiple essays and letters of recommendation.

“It was actually my dad who woke me up with a call; he had left earlier than me and just said ‘Congratulations,’” William said. “I was still pretty groggy, but I put my hands up and rolled over on the bed and said, ‘Yes! I did it.’”

William followed this honor up on Friday, when he was admitted to his dream school, Yale University.

On May 30, William will graduate from Centennial with an expected GPA of 4.4. He’s always excelled in math courses, but surprised his high school counselor, Cortnay Moyer, when he asked to take all advanced placement and honors courses last year.

“I was just like, ‘What? No? OK?’” Moyer said. “He has all A’s then he asks to take seven AP courses?”

Even though the workload bordered on the extreme, Moyer has seen enough initiative from William to know that if anybody could handle it, he could.

“I knew he’s so determined that he can do it,” Moyer said. “I don’t ever question his ability to complete a task.”

The advanced courseload proved to be a big lift, but it wasn’t William’s biggest challenge. In his Presidential Scholars application, William wrote about his family’s move from Meridian to Shanghai, China – where he spent his first two years of high school before returning to Centennial for his junior and senior years.

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Photo by Andrew Reed/ Idaho Ed News

William attended Shanghai American School, where teachers from all over the world taught classes in English.

“It was the adjustment of moving from such a small place in Boise to this giant metropolis – from this end of the spectrum all the way to that – and moving from middle school to high school,” William said. “It was all that bundled together.”

Although challenging, the experience was rewarding for William, who met students and teachers from across the world. He’s even managed to stay in touch with many of them, between meeting a group vacationing in San Francisco to returning himself to Shanghai last summer to complete an internship in Hewlett-Packard’s marketing department.

“It’s been lots of fun to see where people are from,” he said. “It gave me a lot of perspective.”

Throughout his time in school, William has been a competitive swimmer, affording him the opportunity to compete in varsity meets for Centennial and participate in international competitions in Taiwan and Thailand.

He’s also developed an interest in economics, and participated in a team that placed second in the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s b/launched program, designed to pair young entrepreneurs with experienced mentors and venture capitalists.

Through b/launched, William’s team earned college scholarships and launched their own tech startup, a product that is designed to help business travelers by monitoring the weight and contents of their messenger or laptop bags while they are on the go.

Once he gets to Yale, William plans to major in economics and math. His dream job involves pairing his budding entrepreneurial skills with his interest in investing in tech startups.

“Like the sharks in ‘Shark Tank,’” said William, referencing the reality TV entrepreneurial show. “Maybe like that, but not so ferocious. I still want to feel like I’m creating something new.”