Yesterday, in celebration of #GivingTuesday, Sarah Zeleny was crowned the Ultimate TomGirl and won the TomGirl Scholarship. Sarah’s relentless work ethic, fierce competitive nature and philanthropic endeavors make her the perfect recipient of this award, as she truly demonstrates what being a TomGirl is all about.
The scholarship was open to high shool senior girls who demonstrated leadership on the athletic field, in the classroom and in their communities. Applicants had to submit three letters of recommendations from people endorsing them. They also had to submit a personal essay stating why they felt they were the Ultimate TomGirl and include two photos with their essay, one displaying their athletic warrior side and one showcasing their fashion flare side.
To say I was impressed by Sarah’s application is an understatement. Reading the words that Sarah’s teachers and coaches had to say about her was truly inspiring. They called her a “role model who leads by example” who “lets her hard work speak for itself. ” They all spoke of her morals, integrity and dedication. But what also struck me is what they said about her impact on the people around her-”what impresses me with Sarah is her ability to make each of her classmates feel worth,” and “most importantly Sarah is an excellent individual with strong moral values and empathy for others.” Athletic success is amazing but it is the athletes like Sarah who give to others around them, that are the true champions.
Sarah was a leader on the athletic field as a multi-sport athlete pushing her teams to a Nebraska state championship in soccer, a National Championship in softball and won numerous accolades for her talents. Off the field some of her achievements included being Class President, artist for the newspaper and 3-time State Champion on her One-Act Play Production Team. While pursuing all of that, she still found time to give back to others and her community as President of the Service Club, organizing numerous charity events.
For all of these reasons, Sarah is the Ultimate TomGirl. I want to share with you the letter she wrote. The last line is my favorite:
I Sarah Zeleny, feel that I am the “Ultimate TomGirl,” for every reason mentioned in the scholarship. First off, I portray being the Ultimate TomGirl by being a leader on both the Softball and Soccer Fields. I have been voted by my teammates to serve as Team Captain in both sports this year. I am also a HUGE advocate about “Hustle” and “Work Ethic!” I lead both teams by example, meaning I “push” myself and my teammates to the extreme! While participating in High School soccer, I have earned one State Championship playing every minute of every Varsity game. I have been State-Champion Runner Up one season and a State Qualifier another. I have earned All-Conference HM awards numerous times over the years and have been a three year starter who plans to lead my team to the medal stand again this season! I also play club soccer in the off season competing in and around Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. In High School Softball, I have also been a 4-year Varsity letter winner and a state qualifier. On my club softball team, we won Nationals this past year in my Division level of play. I have been told many times over that being a multi-sport athlete in today’s society is extremely difficult and nearly impossible. However, I train year round and feel that the rewards have been worth every pain, sweat and tear. I have been offered Collegiate Scholarships in both Soccer and Softball and I’m looking forward to competing at the next level!
Not only do I excel in athletics, but I am also a leader in the classroom and amongst my peers. I have twice been elected to serve as our High School Class-President. In a school wide vote this year, I was voted the Gretna High School Homecoming Queen. My Junior year, I was voted to serve on Prom Court and was voted a Prom Server my Sophomore year. One of my proudest moments is when I was “secretly” nominated by a teacher to serve as a mentor to our special needs students. I am a 4 year member of Girls Letter Club and Art Club and a 2 year member of Spanish Club. I served one year as a Wrestling Team Manager and played 4 years on Intramural Basketball. I am a 3 time State Champion on our High School One-Act Play Production Team and was chosen as the Artist for our High School Newspaper. Academically, I push myself and take College Prep Courses on a Non-Weighted scale and am a member of the National Honors Society.
In addition to being the “Ultimate TomGirl” on the athletic field and in the classroom, I am also a leader in our community. I currently serve as President of our High School Service Club. In Service Club, I organize and volunteer countless hours in and around the communities of Gretna, Omaha and surrounding metro areas. I have personally been involved in numerous Cancer Walks, Benefits, Food Pantries, Homeless Shelters, Missions, Road Clean Ups, Angel Tree Shopping, MDA Boot Drives, Assisted Living Facility Help and have spent many hours at Children’s Hospital. I have been a 3 year volunteer Outdoor Education Counselor for Middle School Students and a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the Gretna Youth Softball-Baseball Association. I attend weekly Youth Bible Study and work hard to make our community a better place. I also lead by example in our community as I am Drug Free, Alcohol Free and practice Abstinence! By being involved in the community, I hope that I am viewed as a positive role model not only to my peers, but to the younger children that may look up to me!
In my next stage of life, collegiately….I plan to remain the leader that every college coach is hoping to land. Currently, I am considering playing both sports in college. I know that ANY money will be helpful in this next chapter of my life. I can promise with every bone in my body that I am an athletic warrior that definitely has a fashion flare side! I like to wear heals and curl my hair, but I will NEVER not slide in the dirt or forgo a black eye in doing it and that is why I feel I am your next “ultimate TomGirl!”
Stay tuned to find for details on how you can apply for the next TomGirl Scholarhip coming in January, 2015.