Jo-annie Jacquet is one of those exceptional students that any teacher would be grateful to meet much less teach. “I have not had the opportunity to teach Jacquet but the more I’ve gotten to know her lately the more excited I am to be a part of such a great faculty and student body at West Ashley High,” says WAHS public relations coordinator Donald Newton.
Jacquet was recently selected for the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence. The award is given by the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, a highly selective program that “honors academically superior high school students dedicated to the service of humanity in medicine,” according to Dr. E. Connie Mariano, a former physician to the President of the United States.
To be selected for the award, students are nominated by teachers, counselors, and principals who serve on the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists’ Honorary Board of Educators. The Board nominates students based on their academic excellence, leadership potential, and commitment to entering the medical field. They must also have a minimum of 3.5 GPA to attend.
“Jo-annie is one of the most modest, unassuming students that I’ve ever come in contact with,” said Newton. “You would never know that she has received such an incredible honor because she is too modest to tell you.”
Upon researching the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists Award of Excellence and what it means for student’s futures, you begin to realize truly just how big of an honor it is to receive it. An example of how important this is would be that there’s a $1,000 tuition to attend the conference in Boston and Jacquet didn’t have to pay one cent. The entire amount was paid by family, friends, and even complete strangers.
“People that I don’t even know overheard me talking about the award and the conference and gave me money for my trip. I couldn’t believe it,” said Jacquet, who was one of 4,000 students chosen to become a scholar – only one student is chosen from each school and each state. All Scholars are eligible to compete for a full ride to the college of their choice. Students are eligible for the scholarship through an academic challenge to be announced at a later date.
One of the highlights during the weekend experience was getting to watch a live operation. The students were able to ask the doctor questions during the surgery through a microphone set up in the observation area. She said it was really neat to watch the doctors actually doing their job and performing the surgery.
According to Jacquet, the whole experience has made her more competitive. It helped her realize everyone has a chance in life and that persistence is key when working towards what you want. When she graduates, Jacquet says she wants to return to Massachusetts to attend MIT to study to be a bio-medical engineer and focus on tissue engineering — a process where you takes tissue from someone to create synthetic organs that they can use as temporary replacements until they get a donor.
“The trip was a very life-affirming experience. Point-blank, this is what I want to do,” said Jacquet. “This experience has confirmed that this is what I should be doing. I’m going to go into bio-medical engineering with a focus on tissue engineering. [The conference] confirmed that this is what I’m meant to do.”
For being West Of’s Student of the Month for the month of September, Jo-annie Jacquet will receive a $10 Paisano’s gift card and a Paisano’s T-shirt. Paisano’s Pizza Grill is located at 1798 Ashley River Road. For more information call 818-4969 or visit

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