Elissa Hollaway 2023 Valedictorian

🎓#2 Valedictorian - Elissa Hollaway

 Next Steps: University of Oklahoma

 Field of Studies: Environmental Engineering

 Zebra Since: 1st-grade

🔴 What advice you would give your freshman self? You have time. Be involved, but don't overwhelm yourself with activities. Find the ones you enjoy doing as those will make your high school career more memorable.

🔴 What has this journey taught you about yourself? That I can do anything I set my mind to.

🔴 What does this accomplishment mean to you?  This accomplishment feels as though all my hard work paid off. Like it wasn't all for nothing. Seeing results of your dedication as well as diligence is one of the greatest feelings in the world and I am grateful to be able to hold this position.

🔴 Looking back on your school experience at CPS what does being a Zebra mean to you? To me being a Zebra is to help those around you in need as well as always work toward bettering yourself. Growing up surrounded by the Great Expectations and the encouraging teachers here at Claremore made me into the caring and hardworking person I am today. I would not be able to be in this position without this communities' support.

🔴 What staff member impacted your life most and how in elementary school? Vona Cardwell at Roosa Elementary made the biggest impact on my life. She was always encouraging and gave constructive criticism in order to help us improve. In addition, she found ways to make lessons fun which helped me remember a lot of her teaching in the long run. Overall, she was an important role model in my life, and I am forever grateful for her caring attitude toward me as well as other students.

🔴 What staff member impacted your life most and how in junior high? Mrs. McQueen was very impactful during my junior high career and checked in on me constantly after I had a family event occur. Her class is also where I met one of my best friends who I hold dear to me till this day.

🔴 What staff member impacted your life most and how in high school?  Throughout my high school career, I had many staff members that made an impact on my life. Mr. Riggs and Mrs. Golbek taught me to love science and led me to what I plan to major in. Mr. Cummings was an amazing mentor and always checked in on me if he felt I was off. All of the counselors were super helpful toward me and cared about my future. Mrs. Brace and Mrs. Roach were amazing mentors and always provided help whenever I needed it, not only for the National Honor Society but for everyday advice. And these are only a few of the impactful staff members I had during my time here.

🔴 What is the ONE thing you absolutely take with you to college? The friendships I've made.

🔴 What activities you have been involved in? Work Experience / Shadow / Internship (Career Development Program), ZUAC, Student Council, Red Army, National Honor Society, Native American Student Asso., FUZE, Concurrent, and AP / Pre-AP Programs.

🔴 What was the hardest part (challenges) you had to overcome to achieve this honor? The hardest part was not giving up. There comes a point in high school where you feel like you hit a wall and you wonder if all the handwork and effort you are putting in is worth it. You don't realize it until the end that it was worth it. All the activities you involved yourself in, the effort toward maintaining good grades, and keeping your social life balanced with every other stressful thing in your life. All of these things benefited you in the long run as you learned how to manage your time and were able to achieve things burnt out you didn't think was worth it.

🔴 What are you most proud of in your high school career? I am most proud of my involvement as the Vice President of Philanthropy to our school's National Honor Society. Through this organization, I was able to help contribute to my community firsthand by organizing events such as the Hope Race, Clean-up Day, and Powderpuff. Although it was a lot of hard work and stress, I wouldn't trade it for the world as I got to raise money for those in our community who are in need which is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

🔴 Awards / Honors / Scholarships

Scholarships: University of Oklahoma Distinguished Scholar Scholarship

Awards: Z-Awards in Honors Geometry and Oklahoma History, the Outstanding Student Award in Graphic Design, and Oklahoma Indian Honor Society all four years of high school.