PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in 56 years, a Cowlitz County student has been named a United States Presidential Scholar.

Kelso Cosgrove is one of just 161 students around the country to be awarded a Presidential Scholar medal. He’s the first Cowlitz County student to receive the honor in more than five decades.

“I could not believe that me, from Kelso, won,” Cosgrove said. “It’s pretty crazy.”

The Kelso High School 4.0 graduate, who took University of Washington courses while in school, also works, volunteers and has hobbies that have snagged him awards for things like photography and building cars.

“I’ve really spent my time in high school maximizing it and making sure I know what I want to do after high school, using this time efficiently,” he said.

Kelso Cosgrove with his two brothers, Tucker and Cody. (Courtesy: Kelso Cosgrove)

He did so successfully, all while dealing with tragedy at home.

Cosgrove’s two older brothers — Tucker and Cody — both died. One brother passed away when Cosgrove was in third grade, and the other when he was 8th grade. Both were accidental deaths.

“A lot of students in his particular situation could have gone in the opposite direction,” said Angie Knowles, a counselor at Kelso High School. “But with Kelso, it’s propelled him to go a different direction.”

Knowles says Kelso is left to his own devices a lot, with his single dad working on a barge. She says the humble student is an old soul.

“We have a motto — ‘We are Kelso’ — and I think Kelso Cosgrove really encompasses a lot of that just within himself, being he’s an independent person,” Knowles stated.

As for Cosgrove’s name, it’s no coincidence. He was born in Sacramento, but his dad was from the Washington town.

“My mom said he could name me that if we never move back here because it rains so much,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove told KOIN 6 News that he’s off to Arizona State University in the fall, where he plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Kelso Cosgrove with his U.S. Presidential Scholar medal. (Courtesy: Kelso Cosgrove)

Click here for a full list of the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars.