Community Education

Two Peninsula School District seniors earn prestigious scholarships

Posted on March 15th, 2024 By:

Alec Krishnadasan had no idea what was going on March 4, when his parents and high school counselor walked into class, bearing balloons. Surprise! The University of Washington picked Krishnadasan as one of only 17 students in Washington state named as Presidential Scholars.

Krishnadasan, who is Peninsula High School’s ASB president, will receive $10,000 annually for up to four years at the UW and customized leadership development training with a cohort of his Presidential Scholar peers.

“I honestly had no idea what was going on,” he said. “I’m super excited about this scholarship.”

Meanwhile, over at Gig Harbor High School, senior Josh Pelczar recently learned he earned a four-year national scholarship from the U.S. Army worth up to $200,000 to attend Oregon State University.

NJROTC program praised

Pelczar is a drill commander in the district’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) program.

“I cannot stress enough how invaluable my time in the NJROTC TideHawk Company has been,” Pelczar said. “Not just for building leadership skills but for building friendships and discipline, and for experiencing opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten if I had not been in the company. You will not find a class or program, in my opinion, that builds leadership qualities like NJROTC.”

Josh Pelczar

Pelczar has a passion for “American infrastructure such as highways and railroads, and the constant need to improve their safety and efficiency,” according to a social media post by Peninsula School District. He plans to major in civil engineering.

Inspired by family and country

Pelczar draws inspiration from his parents, Chris and Lynne Pelczar, both U.S. Air Force veterans.

When not studying, Pelczar enjoys playing guitar. He also has operated a lawn care business, Bridgewood Lawn Care, since 2020.

Pelczar has a love of country music that he got from his dad. He relates to the songs about the “hardworking men and women” of America, people like truck drivers and construction workers.

It all ties into his strong sense of patriotism, his desire to serve in the Army after college and his goal to become a civil engineer helping to upgrade the nation’s roads and bridges.

Award recognizes empathy

The Presidential Scholars award that Krishnadasan earned looks “beyond grades at the whole person and how they will make the world a better place,” according to the UW website. “Presidential Scholars are selected for their values rather than their academic accolades, and self-directed actions they take that uphold those values to create a better life for others.”

Krishnadasan has volunteered in a variety of settings over his high school career, with more than 300 hours logged. Among other places, he volunteered at Purdy Elementary, Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and (with his mom Deb Krishnadasan) with Stand Up for Peninsula Schools, which in 2023 successfully promoted passage of two school support levies.

Alec Krishnadasan

Lifting student voices

As ASB president, Krishnadasan started a TikTok page featuring short interviews with students around the school. His goal was to give a platform for diverse voices around campus.

“I’m just kind of trying to talk to more people and get it out there,” he said. “I think that’s something really unique that I’ve done to try and increase that sense of community and belonging at our school.”

Krishnadasan plans to major in chemistry and pre-med with hopes to enter the field of neuroscience. He credits his counselor Ben Wagner for his success in school.

When he’s not volunteering or studying, Krishnadasan enjoys playing golf, attending school events, hanging out with friends and spending time with his family. That includes his mom, Deb, his father Baiya Krishnadasan, and older siblings Gabe and Audrey.

“My family is a big part of my life,” he said. “They’ve shaped who I am.”