Carolina Day School student leader and three-sport athlete, Abigail Ward ’15, has accepted an appointment to the United States Military Academy.
“I am immensely grateful for the experiences I’ve had at Carolina Day these past five years,” said Abigail Ward. “My formative education both on the field and in the classroom has given me the tools to succeed at West Point and will serve me throughout my career as an Army Officer and beyond.”
West Point was exactly what Ward was looking for. She says it offers the potential to create a foundation that can help her impact the world.
“It's about being a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Ward. “I really saw that opportunity in the military.”
She says a Service Academy is the right fit for her. Abigail believes the experience will challenge her to full potential, while putting her in a position to make an impact.
“Abigail is an outstanding young woman with tremendous leadership potential,” said Dr. Heyward Hargrove, Blue & Gold Officer, United States Naval Academy. “She is a person of integrity, has a positive attitude, and the work ethic of a winner. She will be a superb cadet and an effective officer after graduation. She is a special person and possesses excellent character.”
To be considered for admission to a Service Academy, candidates must receive a formal nomination. Ward was appointed to West Point by Congressman Mark Meadows and nominated for appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy from Senator Kay Hagan and Congressman Mark Meadows.
Ward plans to major in international relations and is considering minors in counterterrorism and Russian studies. She will play collegiate lacrosse as part of a 23-person recruiting class that will comprise Army’s first Division I female lacrosse team next season.
“It's an amazing opportunity,” said Ward. “It's going to be really exciting to be a part of that first team. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
At Carolina Day, Ward is a leader on and off the field. She is an all-conference lacrosse player and an accomplished member of the basketball and field hockey teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Ambassador, and co-president and founder of Carolina Day’s Key Club. She also serves as student chair for the school’s Habitat for Humanity project.
“The teacher-student relationships and the advisory program at CDS have provided a unique opportunity for mentorship and guidance throughout my academic career,” said Ward. “The well-rounded academic and athletic experience has prepared me for my challenging future.”
Outside of school, Ward is heavily involved in Buncombe County Teen Court, serving as a Senior Attorney and mentor for new attorneys entering the program. Additionally, she has competed in the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Mock Trial Competition, where she served as team captain. Bringing her experience into her own school community, she created and coached a middle school mock trial team. Abigail is an alumna of the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship Student Congress, Duke TIP, Naval Academy Summer Seminar, and Tar Heel Girls State.
“Abigail has made the most of each of these experiences,” said Jessica Browning, Director of College Counseling. “She is not someone who stands on the sidelines – she dives in – and she makes an impact.”
More from Abigail Ward on her journey to West Point:
Why a Service Academy?
“I want to make a difference; as cliché as that may sound, it is true. I knew that in order to make an impact I would have to be part of something bigger than myself. I saw that opportunity at a Service Academy, not only would I be able to get a world class education but I would have the opportunity serve as part of a global force for good and to serve my country. A Service Academy would develop me into the best version of myself.”
What was the application process like?
“Applying to a Service Academy is completely different than applying to a regular civilian school. The process began in February of my junior year and won’t be officially completed until around April of this, my senior year. Like other colleges I had to write several essays and send my transcript and test scores, but a Service Academy application goes way beyond that. In addition to those requirements, I had to fill out extensive forms for a preliminary background check, a physical and medical examination, the Candidate Fitness Assessment, and an admissions interview, all of which weigh into my admissions decision. On top of everything required for the Academies, I also had to apply for nominations. To be considered for admission to a Service Academy, you have to receive a nomination. I applied for a nomination from Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Kay Hagan, Senator Richard Burr, and Congressman Mark Meadows. The nomination process is similar to most scholarship processes, but it does vary by office. You write a series of essays or short answers, send your resume, fill out forms, and then if you make it past the preliminary rounds you have the opportunity to interview. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview for both Senator Hagan and Senator Burr in this process. I received a total of three nominations, one from Senator Hagan to the United States Naval Academy and a dual nomination from Congressman Meadows, one to the United States Naval Academy and the second to the United States Military Academy.”
How did you make the decision?
“Around the beginning of January I had received news of all three of my nominations and knew that I would likely face a very difficult decision between two renowned institutions. I knew that I had the opportunity to play D1 lacrosse at West Point, but didn’t want to make such a serious decision about my future solely based upon an athletic opportunity that was only relevant for the next four years. Ultimately, I needed to decide which school was going to put me in the best position after graduation and after my minimum service commitment. Thinking nine years in advance was pretty daunting, especially considering that’s half my age. What I wanted at nine-years-old is not what I want now. To break it down I focused on what school had the best program for my intended major and the most opportunities in that field, both as an undergraduate and after graduation. West Point was clearly superior in both of those areas and the more I researched the more confident I became about my future. One of the biggest contrasts I saw between the Naval Academy and West Point, that swayed my decision, came from my campus visits. While both campuses had statues commemorating historical figures or events, Navy’s were mostly ships whereas West Point’s statues were of true leaders. Navy may be a great school for developing mariners and submariners, but West Point is an institution that develops leaders and that is what I want to be. On top of academic superiority, West Point was the school that would develop me into the best version of myself and subsequently put me in the position to make an impact.”
In May, Ward will graduate along with 47 of her peers from Carolina Day School. For more information about Carolina Day, visit www.carolinaday.org