Trinity University’s Juan Sepúlveda, J.D., now works for not one, but two presidents: University president Vanessa B. Beasley, Ph.D., and United States president Joe Biden, J.D. At Trinity, Sepúlveda is the President’s Special Advisor for Inclusive Excellence and the Ron Calgaard Distinguished Professor of Practice in the political science department. At the White House, President Biden recently appointed Sepúlveda to the Commission on Presidential Scholars.
This is not Sepúlveda's first time working for a U.S. president at the White House. He most recently served on the Biden-Harris Transition team as a member of the Arts and Humanities Agency Review Team, where he led the public media portion of the team. In the Obama-Biden Administration, he served as the executive director of the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics, where he designed and led the first-ever White House Hispanic Police Conference along with a series of White House Hispanic Community Action Summits. Now, Sepúlveda will focus his efforts at the White House on the Commission on Presidential Scholars.
"I am humbled and honored to have been named to the Commission on Presidential Scholars by President Joe Biden and look forward to joining my national commissioners in selecting the next cohort of U.S. Presidential Scholars,” Sepúlveda says. "I've had the privilege to serve on the selection committees for global leadership scholarships such as the Schwarzman Scholars and Rhodes Scholars, and every time I do, I finish the process re-energized—knowing that the tremendous talent and leadership of our youth will take care of us as we face ever more complicated issues as a country and a planet.”
The Commission on Presidential Scholars is a group of eminent private citizens appointed by the president to select and honor the Presidential Scholars. Commissioners are selected from across the country, representing the fields of education, medicine, law, social services, business, and other professions. The commissioners make the final selection of the 161 Presidential Scholars.
The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 by executive order of the president to recognize some of the nation’s most distinguished graduating seniors for their accomplishments in many areas: academic success, leadership, and service to school and community. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students demonstrating exceptional scholarship and talent in the visual, creative, and performing arts. In 2015, the program was expanded once again to recognize students demonstrating ability and accomplishment in career and technical fields.
In the most recent round, nearly 5,000 students were named as candidates out of approximately 3.6 million students expected to graduate from U.S. high schools in 2022.
“This recognition is the highest award the U.S. government gives to our nation's top graduating high school students who exemplify a powerful combination of academic success, leadership, character, and service to their communities," Sepúlveda says. “I have no doubt that our U.S. Presidential Scholars, the best of the best, will be a key part of the global leadership we need to tackle our most challenging problems.”