High school graduates may not often keep in touch with their alma mater or former teachers.
But Patrick Kennedy credits his Fremd High School teachers for where he is today.
The 2009 alum from Fremd High School and political science major was recently awarded a prestigious J.E. Wallace Sterling Scholastic Award from Stanford University for his academic performance at the university. The award is given to top seniors in the School of Humanities and Sciences.
"I know this isn't particularly grandiose like a Rhodes Scholarship, and I imagine there are a bunch of students from Fremd who are accomplishing similar things, but it's definitely nice to get a pat on the back," Kennedy said. "I simply like what I study, and every so often, get pleasantly surprised that other people approve of my work."
To celebrate his accomplishment, the university will host a luncheon on April 27. Recipients can invite a pre-college teacher who was most influential in guiding them through the beginning states of their academic careers.
Kennedy invited his Fremd High School counselor John Baima, who was instrumental in helping him get into college and choose the proper classes.
"It was hard to pick because I had a lot of great teachers in high school, but I invited John Baima who was my college counselor and a really great guy," Kennedy said. "I thought it would be a useful experience for him in advising because I know he said he had never visited here, as well as an honor for the work that he does. I really appreciate it."
Kennedy said he was surprised when he found out he was the recipient of the award. He said his time at Stanford was highly enjoyable because of the variety of classes he could take. Kennedy, who is also a composer and musician, said his high school experiences prepared him for the diverse learning and rigor of college.
"I didn't feel like it was hard work to get good grades because I enjoyed everything that I studied," Kennedy said. "Taking college level and AP classes in high school had prepared me to do homework, teach self-discipline, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take rigorous courses in high school to prepare me for college."
This isn't the first time Kennedy was recognized for his academic accomplishments at Stanford. He has received the following awards: Lindsey J. Peters Memorial Prize for Most Outstanding Student in American Politics and Government, granted to one student in the political science department each year; Andrea Lunsford Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research and Oral Communications, awarded to six students in Stanford's undergraduate student body each year; major grant recipient for original research totaling $6,000; International Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of presidency and Congress, awarded by a think tank in Washington, D.C., to one student from 60 universities where Kennedy represented the university, shared his research, and participated in conferences in Washington D.C.
Kennedy also was an early inductee into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society, which is only offered to 1 percent of his graduating class.
Kennedy will graduate from Stanford at the end of this academic year. He said the best part of his education was being able to take multiple classes that satisfied his broad interests, including music, which he almost majored in. He will be working this summer for the Federal Reserve doing economic policy research. He said he would like to live and work abroad, but is exploring all of his options.
"I am taking it a year at a time, and it's important to me to continue doing music, as well," he said. "I love exploring all the things that are interesting to me in the world, and there are definitely many."