Teen cancer survivor from Shirley nominated as U.S. Presidential Scholar


A senior at William Floyd High School is one of just five New York state nominees in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) category for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

Alexandra Clougher is also one of only four Long Islanders selected in the entire program, considered one of the nation’s highest honors for high school students.

A four-year member of the high school’s varsity Rockettes dance team, Clougher was accepted into the program due to her strong academics, outstanding attendance and model citizenship. She is the only Long Islander selected for the CTE component.

“Alexandra is one of our team captains this year and her nomination for this award is truly a testament to who Alex is,” said Lisa Taiani, Alexandra’s coach and adviser on the Rockettes. “We and her teammates have recognized Alexandra as a leader — she is kind, approachable, dependable, talented, mature, responsible and determined.”

The district said that Clougher, 17, of Shirley is a high-achieving student enrolled in the high school’s Cosmetology Academy, where she is participating in a two-year, 1,000-hour cosmetology-licensing course and is “learning and gaining practical experience in hairstyling, hair coloring, haircutting, skin care, nail technology, make-up, braiding, chemical texturizing, hair extensions and more.”

Clougher has persevered during high school, in spite of a thyroid cancer diagnosis in September 2020. She has since recovered — all the while continuing to excel across every aspect of her life.

“Despite this diagnosis, Alexandra’s personality and outlook on life has not changed,” said Arianna Scanlon, Clougher’s school guidance counselor and the person who nominated her to the state legislature for the Presidential Scholar award. “Alexandra has allowed her academics and her passion for dance to be the guiding light through any unfortunate circumstance. She has continued to grow as a young adult and has continued to push herself to be an even better version of herself.”

When Clougher graduates from high school this June, she will qualify for the New York state cosmetology written and practical exams, and have the opportunity to pass an industry assessment to have a CTE endorsement on her diploma.

“I have no doubt the Alexandra will be a successful cosmetologist upon graduating this June,” said Karisa McMahon, Alexandra’s senior cosmetology teacher at William Floyd High School. “Not only is she an excellent student academically, but she helps her peers when in need. She takes pride in her work and is very conscientious.”

The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars honors select scholars annually, based on the students’ academic success, artistic excellence, essays, school evaluations, and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and demonstrated commitment to high ideals.

The U.S. Department of Education will issue invitations in late January from among those students nominated by chief state school officers and from a pool based on scores on the SAT and ACT exams. Semifinalists will be notified in mid-April, and Presidential Scholars will be notified in May.

Top photo: Alexandra Clougher (front) performs with William Floyd High School’s Rockettes. Photos were provided by William Floyd School District.