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Profile on the salutatorian: Ashley Ward

At just about every high school there is a select group of students that are admired and esteemed by their peers. Ashley Ward is one of those students, and will present as the salutatorian for the class of 2011 as a reward for her hard work and accomplishments.

Ward has been involved in publications, Academic Decathlon and the California Scholarship Federation (CSF) throughout high school. These achievements, combined with her kind heart and positive attitude distinguish Ward from the rest of her class.

Before she moves onto college next year, I asked Ashley to reflect on her high school experience.

Porter: What or who in your high school experience has impacted you the most?

Ward: While the teachers, environment, and incredible friendships I?ve experienced at FC have greatly impacted my life and personal growth, I would say that my drive to succeed and to take on all that FC has to offer stems from my brother, Austin. His wisdom and incredible intelligence has challenged me in my day-to-day life to strive for success in all that I do and has definitely challenged me to grow leaps and bounds, both intellectually and personally. Without him by my side, I don?t think I would have gained all the strengths I?ve been blessed with at Fresno Christian.

Porter: Where are you going to school next year? What about that college appealed to you?

Ward: I will be attending Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA this fall. When I first began my college search, I knew right away that it had to meet certain criteria: I wanted to stay in California and I wanted the college to have a strong biblical foundation without compromising on academics. Westmont definitely met these guidelines, and when I visited the campus, I felt an incredible sense of peace about my decision to attend there. I knew in that moment that God was directing me to Westmont, and I?m very excited to see what he has in store for me there!

b>Porter: What are your feelings about moving out and starting college?

Ward: The idea of heading off to college is incredibly bittersweet. On one side, I?m thrilled to be given the opportunity to live in another area, grow as an individual, and unlock God?s will for my life in college as I grow into the woman he wants me to be. On the other hand, this also means that I have to leave my friends behind and head in a different direction from my brother, whom I?ve spent nearly every waking moment with. While it will be a huge transition, I trust that God is calling me to Westmont, and for this reason, I know that I need not worry about the new life set before me.

Porter: What do you think you will miss the most about high school? The least?

Ward: Without a doubt, I will miss the relationships that I have made with students and teachers at FC the most. Something that is truly unique about our school and one that is so dear to my heart is the environment we have where teachers and students connect on such a personal level. I?ve been blessed with the opportunity to interact with my peers and teachers in deep, meaningful ways that encourage my faith and presses me to succeed. I will definitely miss these incredible people who pray for you and look out for you, yet also allow you to joke around and call them fat, as was the case with Mr. [Mike] Fenton.

Porter: Which year of high school was your favorite? Why?

Ward: As I explained in my senior column, my favorite year of high school has definitely been my senior year by far due to what I?ve learned and how I?ve grown. I came to realize that one of the most important things I should be striving for in high school is to reach out to others and try to impact another?s life. Because of this, I stopped dwelling on the small negativities of life and, instead, recognized the many strengths that my peers had to offer and how much insight and enjoyment they brought to my life. I got to know many people on a personal level, and as a result of these beneficial relationships, I grew so much personally and spiritually. I?m genuinely going to miss these strong bonds and relationships the most as I leave FC.

Porter: If you could redo any part of high school what would you change and why?

Ward: I wish that I could have learned and done what I did senior year at the beginning of freshman year. While I?m incredibly blessed and thankful for the high school experiences I have had, I wish I could have reached out to others more and learned so much about my faith and myself during the beginning of high school, rather than the end. So, the best advice I can give to others still in high school is to not miss out on the chance to genuinely get to know your classmates; your outlook on life and your overall disposition will improve tenfold.

Porter: What has been your favorite class and why?

Ward: This answer is tied: AP Calculus AB and AP English Language and Composition have been my two favorite classes because Mrs. [Molly] Sargent and Mr. Fenton are the two best teachers I have ever had. Both classes have challenged me academically, improved my abilities in English and math, yet also have offered a fun and enjoyable environment to grow in with two educators that have my utmost respect. Now I know everything there is to know about a thesis statement and can personally dub myself the queen of calculus. The laughs and growth I?ve experienced in those classes have impacted my character and my future. My hat goes off to both of them for challenging students in their faith and academic interests, while also serving as great role models.

Porter: What do you for fun when you aren’t working?

Ward: What?s fun? Just kidding. In my not-so-spare time, I enjoy reading, spending time with my friends and family, and doing what I call ?grandma activities,? such as cross-stitching, baking, and needlepoint. These hobbies help me relax but also produce tangible results that I can give to others as gifts.

Porter: Who in your life do you look up to the most?

Ward: This is a tough question. So many people in my life are worthy of looking up to and serve as my role models, but if I had to choose one, it would be my older sister Kim Collier. I am continually amazed at her selfless love for those around her, the help she gives to everyone and her ability to solve any problem that comes her way. She definitely inspires me to be a better person and a light for Christ. She is the best woman I know!

Porter: How has your faith affected your education?

Ward: Christianity has definitely played a part in my future plans and my educational successes. One of the main reasons I strive for success in school is because I seek to please God with the blessings he has bestowed upon me by using my talents to the best of my ability. I?m thankful for the environment and Christian fellowship offered at FC, which I hope carries on in college as I pursue God’s will for my life in an educational setting that challenges and strengthens my faith.

Graduation for the class of 2011 will be held May 26 at 7 p.m. in the Peoples Church sanctuary. A short reception will follow immediately afterwards.

To see Ward’s contributions to The Feather, check out her staff biography and archive page.

For an interview with the co-valedictorians, read Profile on the co-valedictorian: Austin Ward or Profile on the co-valedictorian: Richard Lopez.

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