Victoria Gebert Named 2015 Presidential Scholar of the Arts

By Linda Arntzenius

Graduating Princeton High School (PHS) senior Victoria Gebert will have much to celebrate this year on her 18th birthday. She’ll be one of 141 young scholars across the country being recognized for their accomplishments in academics or the arts at an awards ceremony in Washington D.C. on June 21.

As the recipient of a 2015 United States Presidential Scholars Award, Ms. Gebert will receive a Presidential Scholar Medallion. She is one of 20 U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts.

The Princeton student is an accomplished sculptor and her artwork will be displayed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

“Presidential Scholars demonstrate the accomplishments that can be made when students challenge themselves, set the highest standards, and commit themselves to excellence,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in his announcement of the award. “These scholars are poised to make their mark on our nation in every field imaginable: the arts and humanities, science and technology, law and medicine, business and finance, education and government — to name a few.”

Presidential Scholars are selected annually based on academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

Ms. Gebert was in math class when she heard the news. “I knew names were being announced in early May, but it didn’t really sink in until I saw the list and realized my name was on it! It’s actually still sinking in that I get to go down to D.C. and show my art in the Kennedy Center.”

After graduating from PHS, Ms. Gebert will be off to Yale University where she hopes to combine her passion for art with her interests in psychology and music. ”I’m super passionate about sculpture, but I also love allowing my other artistic and academic passions to inform my art. My love for psychology and music should never come second to my art — they can all go hand-in-hand.”

PMag Holiday

Readers of Town Topics and Princeton Magazine may recall that Ms. Gebert first caught the public’s attention when she debuted a dress made out of trash at Princeton University’s Trash Artstravaganza and transformed corrugated cardboard and orange burlap into a spectacular float in the style of Jabba the Hut’s Sail Barge for a recent Princeton University P-rade.

She was the first place winner of Princeton Magazine’s “Wintertime in Princeton” Student Art Contest with the beautiful dress, shown above. Titled “Winter Wonderland,” the dress was constructed entirely of recycled materials when Ms. Gebert was an 11th grader at PHS. The stunning gown was featured on the cover of Princeton Magazine’s holiday issue in 2013.

Born in Princeton hospital in 1987, just a year after her parents and siblings moved to Princeton from their native Germany, Ms. Gebert is the youngest of four children and has two sisters and a brother. At age 16, she was recognized for her artistic endeavors by the National Young Arts Foundation.

“I grew up in a safe, supportive town and received an incredible amount of love and learning from family, teachers, and friends, so I would be pretty misguided if I thought this was all me,” said the award-winner. “I’m especially grateful to all the educators in my life — I don’t know where I would be without all the intellectual curiosity and knowledge they shared with me.”

One of only eight winners from New Jersey and the only one from PHS, Ms. Gebert was selected among 4,300 candidates out of more than three million students expected to graduate from high school this year, who qualified for the 2015 awards.

For a complete list of 2015 U.S. Presidential Scholars, visit: www.ed.gov/programs/psp/awards.html.