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Gabrielle Liberman ’24 Honored as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts; Jennifer Dwyer Earns a Distinguished Teacher Award

Gabrielle Liberman ’24 Honored as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts; Jennifer Dwyer Earns a Distinguished Teacher Award

Last week, Gabrielle Liberman ’24 was one of just 161 seniors across the country to be named a Presidential Scholar, one of the highest honors awarded to high schoolers by the president of the United States. Gabrielle, together with Cassandra Miller ’24 and Miranda Wang ’24, were nominated as Presidential Scholars, earlier this year.   

Gabrielle was one of only 20 students nationwide to earn a Presidential Scholar in the Arts distinction, for her excellence in classical vocal performance. In addition to artistic proficiency, Presidential Scholars in the Arts are required to demonstrate superior academic achievement as well as a commitment to community service and leadership, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s press release

For Gabrielle, the prestigious recognition comes on the heels of being named a 2024 YoungArts winner, which earned her the Presidential Scholar in the Arts nomination. She then had to complete a rigorous application process — involving numerous essays, recommendations, and an interview — to advance to the final round, at which point the YoungArts Nominating Committee submitted her name to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, which ultimately selected her for the award. 

A choral performer since Grade 4, Gabrielle began studying opera with a private teacher as a freshman. “Opera singing is so physiological,” she says, “that it requires a mature voice, so you really can’t start until high school. In her junior year, she studied with Primary School music teacher and Choral Director Lori Mirabal. Last summer, after attending Interlochen’s voice and opera program she was hooked, and knew she wanted to pursue opera training at a high level. Her current vocal teacher, Maria Maxfield, is an ensemble member of the Metropolitan Opera. 

Passionate about history, language, and literature, Gabrielle says her love of opera is a natural extension: “Opera is really an academic discipline. It intertwines so many different subjects — you have to research the history of the work, and translate, interpret, and analyze the language and story. I find all of that really fun.” 

She also savors the simplicity of the artistic pursuit itself. “It’s just a beautiful outlet to express yourself emotionally,” she says. “A lot of people think operas are stuffy, but they contain the full spectrum of human experience. Performing them is like a mental relief for me, it’s like therapy.” 

Coinciding with Gabrielle’s award, one of her teachers, Jennifer Dwyer, received a Distinguished Teacher honor from the Presidential Scholars Program, thanks, in part, to Gabrielle, who nominated her and wrote one of her award-application essays on Ms. Dwyer’s influence. She was Gabrielle’s teacher for AP English Language and Composition as well as Advanced Fiction Writing; Ms. Dwyer also served as the faculty advisor to the Community Service Committee.

“Ms. Dwyer really cemented in me important lessons about service and leadership. She’s been such a mentor, and encourages us all to push others to understand why service is so important,” says Gabrielle.  

For her part, Ms. Dwyer notes that Gabrielle exhibits something far more than achievement alone. “She’s the kind of student who is intensely curious and excited to learn. She’s certainly driven by the desire to succeed, but there’s an additional layer in her of effervescence, enthusiasm, and willingness to go the distance that is striking.” 

Gabrielle plans to attend Princeton, where she looks forward to pursuing her many passions, including vocal performance.

Congratulations, Gabrielle and Ms. Dwyer!

Read the full press release about the Presidential Scholars.