HOLMDEL, NJ – March 24, 2021 – Holmdel High School senior, Bill Zhang, is one of 150 national winners of the 33rd annual Coca-Cola Scholars program. According to the Coca-Cola website, this scholarship program received 99,403 applications from high school students across the United States and “only ⅙ of 1% of applicants were chosen to receive this extremely competitive award”. In addition to a monetary scholarship, Bill Zhang will join a prestigious community of scholarship recipients who are currently “a powerful force for positive change in the world”.
According to Zhang, the grueling application process took place over several months beginning with a general application detailing his academic and extracurricular achievements. That field was narrowed to 1,609 Semifinalists who wrote essays covering topics concerning community and issues an applicant wished to explore in the future. Additionally, Dr. Josephine Blaha supported Zhang’s candidacy with a letter of recommendation. As a Finalist, Zhang was one of 251 students who participated in a virtual 20-minute interview with a Regional Interview Committee, composed of a Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation staff member and three other previous scholarship recipients. Said Zhang, “I found the conversation to be super enjoyable, and we discussed everything from my future aspirations to my favorite NBA player. In the end, 150 Coca-Cola Scholars were chosen, and I was lucky to be one of them!”
Since earning the award, Zhang has been networking with other Coca-Cola Scholars and learning about the work in which they are engaged in their communities. He has plans for a project to support the Asian-American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and says that he looks forward to continuing his advocacy of social justice and health equity: “Tackling the world’s most pressing public health challenges through an interdisciplinary lens, such as science and policy, fascinates me and is something I hope to pursue in the future.”