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AGAWAM — Daniel Nguyen recently received a prestigious award for academics at Agawam High School.

Nguyen — who ranks among the top five students academically in his class — was honored with a Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents’ Certificate of Academic Excellence award. Assistant Superintendent of Schools Cheryl Salomao presented the award at the Nov. 14 meeting of the Agawam School Committee.

“Daniel is a shining example of academic excellence, leadership and membership,” said Salomao before presenting the award. “He’s not only a scholar of exceptional caliber but also a model of active engagement, demonstrating that true excellence encompasses both academic achievement and commitment to clubs and organizations, making a lasting impact on the AHS community.”

The award is presented by local superintendents to seniors who have achieved academic success throughout high school. Seniors receive it early in the school year so they can include it on college applications. The criteria include a student’s three-year cumulative average of class ranking and overall school citizenship.

“I was amazed when I read the letter notifying me of the award. I was happy of course, but I felt like there were other students who could have received this award as well,” said Nguyen, who lives in Springfield and has attended Agawam schools since sixth grade as part of the School Choice program.

Nyguen said his parents, who immigrated from Vietnam in the late 1990s, have always had high expectations for his success in school. He said their aspirations for him — as well as his own focus on doing the best he can academically — drove him to enroll in as many honors and Advanced Placement courses as possible. That determination earned him a cumulative grade point average of 4.4.

In his junior year, Nguyen took in five AP courses, scoring a 4 on each exam. His rigorous pace continues in his senior year, with four AP courses. He enjoys science courses, specifically biology and chemistry.

“I feel like this award is special because in a way it encapsulates my high school experience. I’ve been pushing myself academically. With all the APs and stuff, it’s stressful. So, it’s nice to get a ‘reward’ — recognition for what for what I’ve done,” said the 18-year-old.

In addition to his packed academic schedule, Nguyen also is the manager of the girls tennis team, president of the Science Club, the Diversity Club, the Adventure Club, the National Honors Society, and the History National Honors Society. On top of those activities, he takes time to help other students who are struggling in a class or who are stuck on something difficult.

A member of the Healthcare Pathways, Nguyen is completing a 100-hour internship at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. He volunteers for four hours on Tuesday afternoons in the post-anesthesia care unit.

“That’s where patients are sent after surgery to recover. I help around the unit to make sure everything’s restocked, in order and clean in all the rooms,” he said.

Nguyen soon will complete his EMT certification at Springfield Technical Community College and plans a career the medical field, perhaps in nursing or dermatology. He’s exploring pre-med studies at Boston University, the University of Pennsylvania and Vanderbilt University.

He said this award could be an important “data point” when applying to those universities and other institutions of higher education.

“This is a selective award. Receiving it shows my credibility as a serious student who has been recognized by my high school administration for my academic achievements. It certainly should be a good point for universities to consider,” said Nguyen.

Despite his hectic schedule, Nguyen balances it all by carving out time for fun.

“I always set plans beforehand. I often make plans to hang out with friends just to keep myself busy and not think about schoolwork and the stress that it can bring,” he said.

Nguyen said his extracurricular activities are like a relief valve for him: “They let me escape from my courses for a little while and it helps take my mind off of having to study. That way, when I go to study, I have fresh mind.”

In past years, two Agawam High School seniors were selected each year for their academic achievements, leadership abilities and strong character traits. However, this year the superintendent’s association revised the way districts determine how many seniors can get the award.

Previously it was based on a high school’s total student population. Now, it’s the number of students in the senior class that determines how seniors can be selected for the award. The change reduced Agawam’s choice to only one student.

mlydick@thereminder.com | + posts