By Martie Thompson

Lauren Philip, a recent graduate of Creekside High School, was selected as a 2020 US Presidential Scholar by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars. She is one of six students selected from Florida and one of 161 seniors selected nationwide based on their academic success, artistic and technical excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals. Of the 3.6 million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,300 candidates qualified for the 2020 awards determined by outstanding performance on the College Board SAT or ACT exams, and through nominations made by educators. Philip was nominated by Kevin Davenport, director of the Creekside High Engineering Academy.

While at Creekside, Philip was a member of the Engineering Academy and was president of the Engineering Club and Science National Honor Society her senior year. She is also a member of Creekside’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and holds certifications in several industry standards including CAD software.

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Philip attended Julington Creek Elementary and Fruit Cove Middle School. She has two sisters, one older who just graduated from the University of Central Florida, and one younger who is a student at Creekside. She is the daughter of Celina and Jeenu Philip.

Q: What was the application process like and how did you find out you had been selected?

A: There was just one very comprehensive round of application, which included a number of essays. The essays focused on how you had grown as a person, with an emphasis on how you took what you were given and then turned it into what you are now. My teacher, Mr. [Kevin] Davenport nominated me as the school’s representative. I was notified in January that I was a candidate and I was shocked. Then in April I was notified that I was a semifinalist and in May, I learned that I had been selected. Usually, the scholars go to Washington DC for an awards ceremony and other activities, but with the pandemic these plans for our class are on hold.

Q: Have you always been interested in STEM or engineering?

Q: I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do, probably like most kids. When I was in eighth grade and looking forward to high school, I found that Creekside had so much to offer. I knew I liked math and science and so I looked at Creekside’s Engineering Academy and it really clicked with me. I talked to some of the older kids in the Academy and that sealed the deal, so I applied. 

Q: What are your other interests?

A: Music is a big part of my life. I have played piano since I was five years old and was in chorus in elementary school. In sixth grade band with Mr. Isabelle, I started playing the flute and then played the saxophone in high school. I was the section leader in marching band.

I also like art and designing. In fact, the ability to become certified in CAD was one of the main reasons I decided to attend the Engineering Academy. I like to work my brain and enjoy puzzles and other game apps.

Q: What are your plans for next year?

A: I will attend Florida Gulf Coast University and study biomedical engineering. I wanted to stay in Florida and Florida Gulf Coast offered me a scholarship. Also, I liked the size of the school; class sizes are somewhat small but they have a lot of opportunities. It’s kind of a happy medium between a very large school and a small one. 

Photo courtesy Jeenu Philip
Lauren Philip

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