Butler Tech Senior Named U.S. Presidential Scholars Semifinalist for Ohio

Tara Sprandel

Tara Sprandel, a senior in Biomedical Science at Butler Tech, has been named one of five U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists for Career Technical Education (CTE) in Ohio. Sprandel will be recognized at the Ohio Association for Career Technical Education Legislative Seminar in January 2018. She will also receive an invitation to apply for national recognition by the U.S. Department of Education, which selects up to 20 high school CTE students annually for its U.S. Presidential Scholars program.

Sprandel chose to study Biomedical Science at Butler Tech because of her interest in becoming an oncology specialist. “Everyone’s been impacted by cancer, and it’s just very interesting to look at a disease that has impacted such a large percentage of American families, even internationally,” Sprandel said. “I want to look deeper in on it, even how diet could influence the origin of cancer. I’m very interested in nutrition and how that can impact health as well.”

Sprandel was just recently accepted to The Ohio State University, where she plans on majoring in Pre-Medicine. She is on track to graduate Butler Tech already earning 24 college credits through seven Ohio College Credit Plus courses and three AP courses. She has been inducted into the National Technical Honor Society, serving as chapter president, and is active with the Health Occupation Student Association (HOSA). Sprandel is among the top six percent of her class at Colerain High School, where she also played varsity softball.

“Tara is a role model student,” said Danielle Mink, one of the Biomedical Science instructors who nominated Sprandel for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. “If you were to look for her at any moment during the day, you would find her actively engaged in her school work.”

Tara Sprandel in the Biomedical Science lab at Butler Tech

Lisa von Haefen, who also instructs Sprandel in Biomedical Science, notes that she has excelled in laboratory research skills including DNA fingerprinting, analytic biochemistry, and molecular biology. “Tara has grown into an inquisitive learner and researcher who strives not only to understand concepts, but to use them to develop innovative concepts and ideas in the area of medical devices, public health policy, and environmental health,” von Haefen said.

Sprandel says that career technical education in high school has given her the ability to learn skills and explore careers that most students don’t get until college – including a chance to observe a gastric sleeve bypass surgery. She says that old perceptions that CTE is just for workforce training need to be dispelled. “When we come to Butler Tech, we’re preparing ourselves for college. Especially PLTW (Biomedical Science), we’re all interested in physician careers or forensic careers, which all require a lot of college,” Sprandel said.

This is the second year in a row for Butler Tech to have a student named as a semifinalist for the Ohio CTE component of the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program, and the second to come from the Northwest Local School District. In 2016, Carlos Boyd from Butler Tech’s Financial Services Honors program at Northwest High School was also named a semifinalist. He is currently attending Washington University in St. Louis, where he received a full scholarship, while also serving as the national treasurer for Business Professionals of America.

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964 to honor the nation’s most distinguished graduating high school seniors. It was expanded in 2015 to recognize students enrolled in career technical education programs. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars.