Local high school student with out-of-the-ordinary upbringing receives US Presidential Scholar award

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A local high school senior is one of nine California recipients of the U.S. Presidential Scholar award, an exclusive and prestigious academic honor.

Donovan Jasper is not your average graduating senior, but as an award recipient, one might expect him to be a standout. 

Yes, Jasper has the grades, the extracurriculars, the service work, but he also grew up with an aviary on his family’s Placer County property. 

The family collects and cares for exotic birds, attempting to correct deformities that arise.

“A technique where you splint their toes with a straw basically and it straightens them out,” Jasper explained. 

He believes fixing the disfigurement will give the animals a better chance of successfully reproducing.

“The long toes are kind of required to have them to mount their mate, as well as just live normally,” he said.

Beyond birds, Jasper believes service work distinguished him and his 160 fellow recipients from across the country. He, along with classmates, founded a nonprofit seeking to bridge the technology gap with underserved students.

“We taught STEM, specifically cybersecurity and computer science, to kids in the area. Particularly those who don’t really have a STEM education,” Jasper said.

However, he’s also got an artsy side. Jasper spent a year in Germany as a ballet dancer. 

After graduating from Jesuit High School this weekend, he heads to college in the fall. With such a broad range of experiences under his belt, you have to wonder, what’s next?

“I don’t really know what’s next entirely yet, so I’m going to Stanford, in a sense I guess, to find out what I want to do,” Jasper explained. 

There is also another local student earning the distinction of U.S. Presidential Scholar. Parker Van Ostrand of McClatchy High School also earned the distinction of U.S. Presidential Scholar. Van Ostrand was honored for his accomplishments in the arts.

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