Anchorage Running Club 2009 Scholarships
by Bonnie Swanson
On March 23rd, the scholarship committee met and selected two high school runners to each receive $1,500 from the Anchorage Running Club (ARC). As the Big Wild Life Runs have become more successful, ARC has been able to award increasing amounts and numbers of scholarships to young runners. Selection criteria include being a student at an Anchorage high school, and evidence of enthusiasm for and involvement with running, community service, academic ability, and some degree of financial need. As usual, it was difficult to choose just two from many outstanding applicants.
Ethan Zinck from West High School was a compelling candidate from the start. Ethan ran for the varsity team throughout four years of cross country at West, placing 8th and 15th at Regionals during his junior and senior years. Not only is he an accomplished runner, but he also exhibits qualities of leadership and strength of character, mentioned frequently in his letters of recommendation. He was elected captain of the cross-country team during his senior year, and was awarded two prestigious awards, the “Most Inspirational Male Runner” and the “Prefontaine Award”. He has participated in a variety of community service activities, including coaching the Rogers Park After-School Running Club, assisting with various community runs and ski events, and coaching summer basketball camps. He is successful academically, as evidenced by a GPA of 4.07, a class rank of 13 out of 354, and high SAT scores. In addition, he has a variety of interests outside of running and academics; he plays several instruments, is vice president of the Math club, and is currently preparing for the intensely competitive “We the People” competition. Ethan stated in his application essay that training for running events has led him to reevaluate and improve how he tackles other demanding activities. He currently estimates his need for assistance to be about $15,000 in order to be able to attend his first choice school, Seattle University. We are happy to support a small portion of his financial need to help him achieve his eventual goal of becoming a lawyer.
Andrea Zanders’ application was an inspiration—her story is one of incredible resilience, determination, and courage. Andrea describes her young life as one of abuse, neglect, and poverty. When she was 7, Andrea lost her father to suicide. At the age of 10, she lost her mother and stepfather to domestic violence, and was sent to Alaska to live with her aunt, uncle, and their children. The resultant emotional turmoil necessitated spending the majority of her first two years of high school in residential treatment facilities; she entered Service High School early in her junior year.
Her love of running shone throughout her entire application. Although she’d always enjoyed running, it became a real source of comfort and stability during her time at the center. Her uncle bought her running shoes, and she would run on her own on a daily basis, pushing herself to run faster and harder, despite having no team, coach, or competitions to spur her. Upon entering Service, she immediately joined the track team, which she describes as “one of the best decisions I have ever made for myself”. Her first year running for Service, she qualified for State, placing within the top five of her age group. She received the Track and Field’s “Coaches Award”, and lettered at the varsity level in both Track and Field and volleyball. In her essay, she wrote that through running she has made life long friends and memories, patched a rather rocky relationship with her uncle (also her coach) and “found meaning and my heart”.
Andrea showed the same gritty determination to succeed in her academic endeavors. Her coursework at the treatment center for the first two years of high school was limited to general education classes. Immediately upon entering Service, she elected to take a variety of honors and AP classes, despite being encouraged by the concerned counseling staff to take “easier” classes. She rose to the challenges she’d chosen for herself, and consistently maintained a 4.0+ GPA.
Despite her own difficulties, Andrea remained committed to serving her community, acting as volunteer and peer teacher for 6 hours/week during her junior and senior year and volunteering as a Youth Group leader for several hours each week. She has been awarded several prestigious awards and honors, including Young Women of Achievement, Jr Honor Marshall, and Good News Mayor Awards Finalist. She hopes to run track and field in whatever college she chooses to attend, and eventually have a career in either engineering or health and fitness. Because she has no parental financial support, every bit of scholarship money is necessary and greatly appreciated.
We are grateful for the opportunity to show our support as a Club and as a running community to student runners such as Ethan and Andrea. We hope that all Club members will plan to come downtown and congratulate these inspiring young people during this year’s Big Wild Life Runs, as both recipients are planning to participate in these events .