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Eva Ward

1355

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Finalist

Bio

I am a high school senior in Indiana hoping to attend college at either Ohio Wesleyan University or Ball State University. I plan to study zoology or biology in order to become a zoologist. I want to study animals in the field in order to learn about how they move, think, act, and react, and I believe that seeing them in their habitat is the best way to learn about them. I will most likely go to graduate school once I have my Bachelor's Degree. Being a zoologist will allow me to follow my passion for animals, but it doesn't pay very well, so avoiding student debt is critical for me. Throughout high school, I have frequently challenged myself by taking AP and Dual Credit classes, and I have typically thrived in these college-level courses. Outside of classes, I play soccer and tennis for my high school and participate in a book club at my school. I'm also a ten-year 4-H member, and every year I complete projects for Wildlife, Forestry, and Shooting Sports. In my free time, I enjoy reading, researching animals and other interesting topics, creative writing, and hanging out with my sister and my friends. I also enjoy art as a hobby, especially sculpture, drawing, and painting. In the future, I hope to complete an internship at a zoo during college and go on a trip related to my major in order to gain valuable field experience. I'm also interested in finding ways to connect my passion for writing and art to my passion for animals and science in order to help others see different species from a new perspective.

Education

Yorktown High School

High School
2020 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Majors of interest:

    • Zoology/Animal Biology
    • Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Population Biology
    • Biology, General
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Zoology/Wildlife Biology

    • Dream career goals:

      Sports

      Soccer

      Varsity
      2020 – 20233 years

      Awards

      • Hoosier Heritage Conference All Academic Award
      • Sectional Champions 2020
      • Huber Award
      • 3 Varsity Letters
      • Sectional Champions 2023

      Tennis

      Junior Varsity
      2021 – Present3 years
      Inguz Memorial Scholarship
      Acinonyx. That word comes from the Greek for "no move claw" and is the name of the only genus of cats with non-retractable claws. There is only one living species in that genus today: Acinonyx jubatus, also known as the cheetah. Cheetahs have been my favorite animal for nearly as long as I can remember, ever since my older cousin gave me a slightly ragged hand-me-down stuffed animal and a headband with spotted ears on it. I don't know why I became so obsessed with that worn toy. I know, however, why I've loved cheetahs for so many years. I see myself in them. Cheetahs are incapable of roaring; the bone structure of their throats makes it impossible. In a sense, I can't roar either. I am unfortunately rather shy. Learning to speak up for myself has been a long, grueling process for me. Some days I thought I would never be able to overcome the way that words sometimes stick in my throat. Nonetheless, after years of persistence and support from those close to me, I've learned to make noise in my own way. I use my ability to listen and to speak one-on-one to lift others up – purring, rather than roaring. At the same time, I've continued to push myself to get more comfortable with louder and larger forms of communication, which has culminated in me challenging myself to a college-level speech course during my senior year of high school, a course which I successfully passed with an A. Public speaking – or roaring – may never come naturally to me, but I continue to look for ways to overcome that. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals, and they have sprinting down to a science. Likewise, while I'm not good at everything, I consistently try to develop my skills. In addition to working on my communication, I've learned to play tennis, shoot a bow, and draw. I'm not the best at any of these things, but I continue to improve until what was once foreign becomes familiar. Cheetahs have non-retractable claws to grip the ground when they run. They can't help but dig in their claws. I'm the same way; I value persistence and hard work. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get after long hours of study or finally overcoming a challenge. When I commit to something, I stick to it. I've played soccer since age five, been fixed on a career in zoology since sixth grade, participated in 4-H for ten years, read books like an addict since elementary school, and worked on creative writing as a hobby since fifth grade. Once I put my claws in something, it takes a lot to get me to retract them again. There are over a million animal species on our planet, and every interaction with them inspires me more. Because of the inscrutable dog that I grew up with, the cantankerous cat who used to attack my ankles daily, the squirrels that I watch, the zoo animals I gawk at, and the species that I study in my biology courses, I am driven to better understand other animal species. I'm determined to pursue field research and study animals in order to learn more things – anything – about them. It won't be easy; I expect college to be full of obstacles both large and small, and I'm not the loudest or smartest or strongest individual out there. In the end, I am a cheetah: quiet, but also driven. And once I get started, I'm going to dig my claws in and not move them.
      Nicholas Hamlin Tennis Memorial Scholarship
      Forgiveness. That, more than anything else, is what tennis has taught me. Four years ago, I didn't even know how to hold a racquet correctly; now, tennis season is the highlight of my rapidly-ending senior year. Tennis hasn't been a part of my life for very long, but it has taught me two extremely powerful lessons: to forgive others, and to forgive myself. When I joined the tennis team, I had no idea how to play. My coach doesn't cut; his only requirement is that we know the basic rules of tennis before the first day of practice. After a friend convinced me to join the team during spring of my freshman year, I found myself spending over ten hours every week hitting with girls I barely knew, all of us totally clueless as to what we were doing or how we were supposed to do it. We were bad. Of course we were – we'd only had one scrimmage before our coach ended up in the hospital with COVID. Forehands were awkward. Backhands were nearly impossible. Every serve was little more than a toss, a swing, and a prayer. All the new players played doubles, and sometimes, partners got frustrated. More often, however, we forgave. That first season, I played doubles with my best friend, and she never once got angry that I could barely hit a serve. Words like "you're good" and "it's okay" and "you'll get the next ball" became second nature to me. Even in later seasons, when I started to play better and set higher expectations for my doubles team, I never got upset or angry with my partner. My current partner and I are terrible at planning strategies during a match, but we always make a point to forgive each other and to support each other after every lost point. Learning to forgive others when they mess up and to encourage them to try again has made me a better teammate, both on and off the court. Forgiving others was an important lesson; learning to forgive myself was a million times harder. I've always been an overachiever and a perfectionist, so I tend to beat myself up when I'm bad at something. Tennis, more than anything else, helped me to learn to be kind to myself. I spent my first tennis season not expecting anything less than crappy serves and a lot of missed balls, but later seasons were different. I set higher standards for myself. I wanted to win. I had nights where I messed up shot after shot and serve after serve, until I was nearly crying from frustration. Being so hard on myself affected not only my tennis game, but also other parts of my life like soccer or learning to drive. I kept shutting down or breaking down because I couldn't do something right, even when it was something I had just learned. Tennis, ultimately, is where I learned to take a deep breath, ground myself in the moment, and let it go. It wasn't easy. I still struggle with it, sometimes. But on the court is where I learned to stay out of my head and to be okay with my mistakes. As a player, I've improved a lot since I started playing tennis. As a person, I've improved even more. I'm kinder, to both others and myself, and that is something that I'm going to carry with me long after I step off of my school's courts for the last time.
      Jiang Amel STEM Scholarship
      My name is Eva Ward, and for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by living things. At first I was interested in dinosaurs, then later dogs, then cheetahs, wolves, and finally all organisms. I have always thought that using science and mathematics is vital to learning about and understanding the world around us. Later, I learned that technology and engineering can be used to improve and grow the world around us. In the future, I plan to become a zoologist and study animals in the field. I want to study zoology because of my passion for animals, but also because I want to help bridge the gap between our understanding of humans and other species. To that end, I also want to help find ways to make it easier for humans to share the planet with other species without so much conflict. As a zoologist, I plan to use the scientific knowledge that I'll gain in college regularly, both in research and in order to safely operate in the field. I hope to not only use existing scientific knowledge, but also to add to it in order to expand our understanding of our own species and other organisms. I also plan to use my knowledge of mathematics to make sense of the observations that I make, such as by calculating diversity indices, population growth, or allele frequencies in a population. In fact, I've already learned to use some of this math in my AP Biology class, and I'm excited to be able to use it more in the future. In addition to the scientific research I hope to do in the future, I also want to reduce human-wildlife conflicts. As our civilizations continue to expand, humans and other animals are being forced to adapt to living alongside each other. This is a difficult adjustment to make, for both other species and for us. I want to use technology and engineering to find new ways to ease conflicts or prevent them entirely. New architecture designs or technologies are one potential way to do this. For a 4-H project last summer, I built a platform to protect cat food from raccoons, helping the raccoons, the cats, and the humans who own the cats to coexist more easily. The structure that I built worked because I learned that raccoons can't jump up vertically, while cats are quite good at it. The cats could get to their food, the raccoons were kept out of the cat food, and the humans were able to keep the cat food outside without worrying about the raccoons getting into the food. Likewise, combining our scientific knowledge of other species with new technological or engineering designs can prevent or reduce conflicts, such as keeping predators away from livestock herds using sound-emitting devices that repel predators or designing new buildings that prevent birds from perching in problematic places and provide alternative perches in less disruptive areas. As environmental issues become more and more pressing, the potential impact from STEM fields becomes greater. I'm determined and excited to be able to use STEM to create a positive effect in the future. Understanding and coexisting with other species is vital for the future of humanity and an important personal goal for me. I have always been fascinated by living things: how they think, the things that they create, and what they can do. Humans -- like all other organisms -- are living things, and using STEM is one of the amazing things that we can do.
      Angelia Zeigler Gibbs Book Scholarship
      I tell myself: Find the Stones. On the first day of my freshman year, my English teacher asked us to write a metaphor to describe the beginning of high school. I wrote that starting high school was stumbling along a path in the woods in the darkness, hearing other voices blindly trying to guide you. It was honestly how I felt. I'd been uprooted from the familiarity of middle school and thrust into high school with no idea where to go or what to do. Worse, my freshman year marked the start of COVID-related changes in my school, so even the upperclassmen who were supposed to mentor me had no idea what to expect. I was blind and lost in the unfamiliar darkness, and my guides were as blind as I was. As I look towards college, I find that I'm not lost in the darkness anymore. I'm not blind. I'm older, wiser, and more confident. I can be my own guide, listen to my own voice, which naturally turns everything into a story like the books I constantly consume. The chapter of my life that was high school, I would title Get Through the Woods. The next chapter? Find the Stones. All of my life, I've been surrounded by familiar sources of strength: my friends, my family, my home and community. They're my touchstones, solid and secure beneath my feet when it feels like the earth is trembling. As I look towards college, I realize that I may be stepping away from those familiar touchstones. When I walk unfamiliar ground for the first time, how can I know that the ground will be solid? I know that there are hidden pits and quicksand ahead, places I can sink if I don't have any support. To go on, I have to find the solid ground. I have to find new touchstones for myself, new foundations I to fall back on when things go wrong. I am not lost in darkness. I can see where I want to go, the unfamiliar paths I could take to get there. I I close my eyes and listen to my inner voice, guiding myself as my feet touch new ground. I'll call this chapter: Find the Stones.
      Nasser Seconi Scholarship Fund
      The sky was black, the lights were bright, and my legs were heavy from running. I felt the cool night air and the weight of my braid hanging down my back as I stared at the goalie’s yellow jersey. The whistle blew, my foot connected with the ball… and the ball went in! I screamed and jumped with joy. It was the sectional championship of my senior year, and although I didn’t score the winning penalty kick, I did keep my team in the competition. Me, the girl who played only recreational soccer until high school. I’ve loved soccer for as long as I can remember, and although I’m quick and hard-working, I’ve never been the best player on the field. I hadn’t dreamed of scoring game-winning points since I was five. I’ve had a lot of soccer experiences since then. The worst moment of my soccer career happened a year ago, when I was a junior. I was subbing in for one of my teammates, and I thought the ref had seen me and was letting me into the game… but I was wrong. Embarrassing, awkward, can-we-please-pretend-that-didn’t-happen… there are a lot of things I could say about that moment. The hardest part was hearing how angry my coach was, and knowing that I’d embarrassed my team as well as myself. For months, I couldn’t even talk about that game. Over time, however, I realized two things. First, no matter how experienced you are or how certain you feel, you can never be too careful. Second, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Stepping onto the field at the wrong time and hearing that ref’s whistle shriek at me felt like a massive issue at the time, but it was only one moment out of a hundred thousand soccer moments. Eventually, I learned to move on. Eventually, I learned to put it behind me and focus on being better, smarter, and making sure I never made the same mistake again. Thankfully, for my team and my self-respect, I did that. This past year, my senior season, I played harder and better than ever before. The best moment of my entire soccer career came almost at the end, during our sectional championship. Making that penalty kick was a relief and an accomplishment. I didn’t let my team down, I didn’t let my coach down, and I didn’t let myself down. That shot reminded me that I can trust myself and my abilities, no matter what mistakes I’ve made. As I leave high school and my team behind, I have to trust myself more than ever. I have to trust that I can make the right decisions about college, my future career, and my future. I have to trust myself enough to take a risk, to step out onto the field at what I hope is the right time and the right place, and see if I get to stay and play. Right now, I’m trusting in my passion for animals and looking at becoming a zoologist. I want to study animals and learn more about them, but zoology doesn’t pay very well. That means avoiding student loans is critical for me, and I’m trying to work at finding a way to pay for college as hard as I’ve played on the soccer field. Soccer player Mia Hamm once said, “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back. Play for her.” And I have.