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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Obama right to recognize academic merit

The White House will hold a student science fair today to recognize student achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. President Barack Obama announced the fair in 2009 as part of his Educate to Innovate campaign, and now the idea will come to fruition. The event will honor students for achievements in basic research and those with new inventions.  

When this event was initially announced, Obama made reference to the fact that countless Super Bowl, World Series and collegiate athletic champions have been honored in years past and it’s time to recognize academics too. The event, while arguably long overdue, is admirable nonetheless. For far too long this country has emphasized the greatness of athletic achievements and reserved academic achievements for the cover of magazines that usually only the academic community reads. For a country where nearly every state fails to pass national education standards, we sure do know how to recognize the fastest, strongest and most athletically talented, while pushing the scholars to the side. Nobody wants to downplay the absolute talent that our nation’s athletes have; they deserve all the acclaim they receive. Nonetheless, it’s time to shine the light on and publicize those who deserve it but are forced to the back of the line.  

As an avid sports junkie, I love the idea of the New Orleans Saints, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers or any other sports champion being honored at the White House. However, as an academic, I wouldn’t mind seeing a flood of collegiate students on the White House lawn. Think of the sheer excitement that some of these students will feel. I’m sure that each and every one of these students is happy to get an “”A”” on their assignment and receive the applause of their instructors, but acknowledging them with a visit to the White House not only effectively applauds them for their academic efforts, it adds validity to their breakthroughs. No matter what you do, it is always much more satisfying when those outside your own personal circle recognize you, your tireless efforts and your results.  

Regardless of personal political feelings, this is a great idea produced by the Obama administration. Not only does this pay respect where necessary, it can only help to perpetuate the academic ferocity seen in today’s youth. Before we can expect academia to become prominent in American values, we must truly assert with whole heart its importance. Yes, athletic achievements are amazing, but they are in no way to overshadow the intellect of this country. There’s no reason why the two cannot share the stage.  

Obama may have said it best: “”If you win the NCAA championship, you come to the White House. Well, if you’re a young person and you produce the best experiment or design, the best hardware or software, you ought to be recognized for that achievement too.””

The only foreseeable problem with this event is what the top students will present Obama with. The athletic team usually presents the president with a personalized jersey. So what will the winning student give him?  I’m sure America’s best and brightest can figure something out.  

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He is also a student organizer for UA Votes, which is run by Arizona Students’ Association. He can be reached at

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