Creative Writer is Named 2012 Presidential Scholar

Nicole Acton, a 2012 creative writing graduate from Interlochen Arts Academy, was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. She was the 42nd Arts Academy student to earn the distinction of being named a Presidential Scholar. As a recipient of this award, Acton will travel to Washington D.C. to be honored with 140 other scholars from around the country during several days of activities, including a trip to meet President Barack Obama at the White House this summer.

"I can't quite wrap my mind around this yet," said Nicole of her recognition. "I always thought that I would just keep writing for a long time and maybe have something published by the time I was in my 30s, if I was lucky. I never thought I would be recognized for something I wrote at age 18."   

“Nicole is dazzlingly talented as a fiction writer and playwright, and her growth in both of these genres has been tremendous,” said Mike Perrine, the director of the creative writing program at Interlochen Center for the Arts. “Nicole has that rare ability to be tough on herself without losing confidence, and I often marvel at her resilience and receptiveness to criticism during our one-on-one conversations in tutorials.”

Even before this most recent award, the young writer has already earned national recognition. She was selected as a finalist for the Blank Theatre Company’s Young Playwrights’ contest last year, an honor that earned her a trip to Los Angeles to see her play staged by professional actors. Nicole also received 13 awards from the Scholastic Art and Writing awards and is a semi-finalist in the Young Playwrights National Playwriting Competition, founded by Stephen Sondheim. “Her grasp on her characters’ voices and complex inner motives will surely lead to further recognition,” said Perrine.

Upon their selection as Presidential Scholars, recipients of the honor are asked to select their most influential and inspiring teacher. This person is also invited to Washington D.C. to be honored as a “Distinguished Teacher” by the Department of Education. Nicole identified Mika Perrine as the teacher who has played such a role.

Nicole attended Interlochen Arts Academy for her junior and senior years. Previously, she attended Hudsonville High School, in Hudsonville, Michigan. This fall she plans to attend Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where she will study writing. She hopes to work as a writer or editor. 

The Presidential Scholars program was created in 1964 to honor academic achievement. It was expanded in 1979 to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, literary and performing arts. At the request of the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars, the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA) nominates students for consideration after an extensive talent search program.