When it comes to paying for her education, Sophia Carter wants to shoulder the load.
“I want to do medical school and I felt like I should pay for it on my own,” said the Sequim High School senior. “But I don’t have $400,000 to pay for my education.”
Last year, one of her close friends joined the Army to help pay for school, a path Carter figured would divert from her own goals — until she did a little research.
Last week, along with dozens of Sequim High classmates, she accepted an Army National Guard ROTC scholarship worth up to $155,000 and a $38,000 scholarship to attend Whitworth College in Spokane.
“I can serve my country and I wouldn’t have to compromise my dreams,” Carter said.
Sequim graduates-to-be complete their high school careers at Friday’s commencement ceremony but many of them are well on their way to undergraduate degrees and beyond at colleges and universities after receiving more than $2.6 million in academic, athletic and military scholarships.
Those scholarships were announced June 8 at the school’s annual assembly.
About $350,000 came from local service clubs, education groups and individual donors — a school record, said Shawn Langston, Sequim High School principal. Sequim students received scholarships from more than 65 such organizations from local to state and national and, in the case of the Soroptimist group, international.
Many of the local groups based their scholarship awards on Sequim students’ scholarship notebooks, a binder full of their academic, athletic and community service activities.
“These scholarship notebooks are not the norm — it’s not something that’s done everywhere,” Langston said.
When Sequim High students graduate to SHS alumni Friday evening, they’ll be led by six valedictorians boasting 4.0 grade-point-averages: Sara Hankins, Rachel Hardy, Audrey Lichten, Amy McAndie, Emily Reis and Lucas Shores.
Hankins, a State Scholar Award winner, will attend Harvard University in the fall with more than $200,000 in scholarships while Hardy, an All-American Academic-Athlete, plans to attend the University of Oklahoma.
Lichten is headed to Linfield College (McMinnville, Ore.) with more than $100,000 in scholarships. Reis will attend Gonzaga University in Spokane in the fall and McAndie is studying at Peninsula College with the help of five local scholarships.
And then there’s Shores, who plans to study bioengineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Shores was accepted into a program that allows just 100 entrants per year and his Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Scholarship is worth more than $230,000.
“I’ve known (I wanted to do this) since my sophomore year,” Shores said.
Thanks to a special “fellowship” award, Shores and classmate Rachel Hughes attended a four-week summer session at the University of Pennsylvania’s Summer Discovery Program for High School Students, Biomedical Research Academy, during their junior year.
Following last week’s scholarship awards assembly, Shores simply beamed.
Said Danielle McKinney, Shores’ mother, “I just told him to do his best.”
Fellow senior Douglas Parks, a home-schooled student, also is headed across the country after earning acceptance to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“It’ll be nice to get away,” Parks said. “I love Sequim but I don’t mind going away to college.”
Parks plans to study environmental science at UNC. His parents Tony and Janice saw his love for the life aquatic emerge at an early age after a trip to Salt Creek Recreation Area near Port Angeles when Douglas was just 6.
“We went back every year,” Tony Parks said.
Parks received a scholarship from the university worth more than $150,000, but his other scholarship, a Gates Millennium Scholarship, may be worth more to the young student in the long run. The Gates scholarship pays for any costs incurred after his undergraduate degree (minus other scholarships he earns) through his doctorate degree.
Douglas Parks said he’s considering a career in the research field of marine biology, but that he’d love to work at a large aquarium, such as the Monterrey Bay Aquarium in California.
A number of Sequim students are making the long trip across the country, including star singers Dalton Ackley and Stephanie Dunbar, who plan to attend Adelphi University in Long Island, N.Y., and aspiring filmmaker Ravi Carlson, who will attend New York University in the fall.
Others are staying closer to home, such as Drew Rickerson. The two-sport star (baseball and football) plans to play baseball at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. He received more than $75,000 in scholarships to attend the school.
Christopher Dahll received eight local scholarships and plans to be a career firefighter-EMT. Volunteer firefighters from District 3 honored his interest and efforts with a $1,000 Dale Kruse Scholarship, bestowing the recognition based on his academic and extracurricular achievements during high school, interest in the career and service as a Fire Service Explorer.
Dale Kruse, a Fire District 3 volunteer, died in the line of duty.
“Dahll’s record and career direction, as reviewed by our volunteer-based selection committee, demonstrate the wonderful traits that Dale Kruse embodied,” District 3 Capt. Steve Chinn said.
Perhaps more than anyone in this year’s senior class, Winston Babb has worked hard to stay in Washington and doesn’t plan to leave for school. A California transplant to Sequim in January 2009, his family moved to Oregon before the start of his final year at Sequim High School.
“I decided I didn’t want to leave my senior year,” Babb said.
Just before the school year started, a family from Babb’s church stepped in and offered a solution.
“They offered to keep me through the school year. It was last minute,” Babb said.
Now Babb is headed to Central Washington University with more than $18,000 in local scholarships and a $50,500 academic grant from Central.
Babb credits Mitzi Sanders, Sequim High School’s career and college director, for helping him with his scholarship notebook and support.
“That woman is the only reason I got any money,” he said. “She told me to take the best things I’ve done and put it in … and write your life story.”
Babb plans to get into a pre-med program and study to be a physician assistant.
“I want to make something of myself and contribute in this world,” he said.
Carter already is doing that, spending one weekend a month with her Army National Guard crew. Last month, it was the rappelling tower. Next month, it’s paintball and camping after that.
Carter will study at Whitworth for a semester, then do six months of training with the National Guard, and then return to Whitworth to finish her undergraduate degree.She plans to study medicine.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.