KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Two Pacific region Department of Defense Dependents Schools students have been accepted into an elite scholar society that recognizes their academic achievements.

Seniors Matthew Burks, of Kadena High School, and Jennifer Oh, of Pusan American School, South Korea, were invited to join The National Society of High School Scholars, an organization that includes the top scholars in the nation.

According to the organization’s Web site,, “Membership in the Society identifies you as one of the best and brightest high school students in the nation.”

The society offers its members scholarships, networking opportunities, publications and free events for members and their families

Burks hopes membership also looks good on his college application.

“I applied to Yale and I’m hoping they’ll look at this and say, ‘Wow!’” said the 18-year-old who wants to be a doctor. “This is amazing,” Burks said. “I’ve never been inducted into a scholar program. I was pretty amazed.”

Kadena senior counselor Stephanie Steadman said Burks is a determined, goal-oriented student.

“He’s also very humble and appreciative of what he has,” Steadman said. “He comes from a very strong family. Family is very important to him.”

Burks said his parents have played a big role in his success.

“Ever since I was a little kid, my parents told me that to pursue my dreams and be successful I would have to be dedicated to my studies and also do everything I can to help society.”

Burks is the student council president, a school improvement plan and student advisory council student representative, and a student representative to the Okinawa District Advisory Council.

Jennifer Oh said she was shocked that she was accepted into the organization.

“I was surprised to receive such a prestigious invitation,” Oh said during a phone interview Thursday.

She said she had never heard of the organization, but once she looked into it, she realized how great the society is.

“Just to belong to an organization with such a good reputation … you can really benefit,” she said.

Oh wants to become an officer in either the Air Force or Navy, and has applied for a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship through both services and the Army. She said her top five college choices are the University of San Diego, Northeastern University, Boston University, Syracuse University and the University of Hawaii.

She has held leadership positions in her school’s Junior ROTC, the latest as commander. She has also served as the student council vice president and captain of the volleyball team.

Kathleen Barbee, Pusan American’s principal, said Oh stays involved in school activities, despite having to travel more than 40 minutes a day from Chinhae to Pusan.

“She’s a dynamic kid who focuses on academics, but knows how to put service in everything she does,” Barbee said.

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