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Spotlight On Our Scholar-Athlete Program

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Our signature Scholar-Athlete Program recognizes students who excel at the highest levels, both athletically and academically. These athletes balance a rigorous class schedule with practice and competition nearly every day, all year round. These young women set new heights for their own achievement and show what’s possible. Scholar-Athletes exemplify Walker’s mission in action: for each girl to challenge herself to be her very best in all she does.

Standards for becoming Scholar-Athletes are high. All Scholar-Athletes compete at the varsity level, playing either three varsity sports, participating in dance at the advanced level for three seasons, or riding at the varsity level for three seasons. They must also earn a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher.

Meet Three of our Scholar-Athletes

Elise Namnoum ’19, a three-year member of the varsity ski, golf and soccer teams, says that being a Scholar-Athlete has given her self-confidence as an athlete but also in the classroom. “I feel as though I can use my athletics to propel my studies, and vice versa,” she says. “It is hard work, dedication and drive that makes a Walker’s Scholar Athlete special.”

She also finds she is consistently challenged to achieve her personal best — for her own satisfaction but also for the good of the team. “In ski racing the most important thing that I have learned is that you need to race your best race to allow the team to flourish,” she says. “This team has taught me how to be an individual racer that is a team player. It was a hard skill to master because while rooting for yourself you find a sense of sportsmanship and love for your teammates that you are competing against.”

Mia Farnella ’18 takes her title of Scholar-Athlete as a badge of honor that she works hard to uphold. “I truly feel a sense of pride when I represent Walker’s.”

She also believes the idea of competition on the field feeds into many aspects of her life. “Personally, being competitive doesn’t end at the field. Working hard and challenging myself in the classroom mirrors what I do at practice every day, and being a Walker’s Scholar-Athlete is more a lifestyle than a title.”

“I’ve played sports my whole life, so I’ve always considered myself an athlete, but playing on the teams here means so much more than field hockey balls and lacrosse sticks. Although it can be be exhausting and sometimes frustrating, it’s also the most rewarding. Every single day, I get to spend time with my best friends, my family,” says Farnella. In November, Mia signed her Letter of Intent to play Division I lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University.

Laurel Gaddis ’18, co-captain of the equestrian team, believes that leadership is a key quality of Scholar-Athletes

“To me, being a Scholar-Athlete represents someone who is active in the Ethel Walker community and someone who is dedicated to doing their best at everything they do. Scholar athletes work hard to be leaders in both the classroom and on their team.”

Gaddis feels inspired to achieve because she is surrounded by a supportive community. Her biology teacher, Dr. Suzanne Piela, who was also a large-animal veterinarian, has supported success both academically and in the riding ring. “As my advisor, she always supports my riding and watches me at home horse shows. As my equine science teacher, she nurtures my love for animals and piqued my interest in pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.”

Read More About Our Other Scholar-Athletes