Hannah Kwak of LaGrange, Illinois, has been announced as the recipient of the 2019 Plum Cares Academic Scholarship (PCAS). This one-time scholarship, totaling $5,000, will support her academic journey at Augustana College in the Fall of 2019 where she will major in Environment Studies and Geology.
This past April, Plum Practicewear, a leading online retailer of gymnastics apparel and accessories, opened it’s application process for their 2ndAnnual Plum Cares Academic Scholarship. The scholarship was made available to graduating high school seniors who could be identified as a competitive gymnast within one of the following disciplines: artistic, rhythmic, acrobatic, tumbling and/or trampoline. Applicants were required to complete a written essay, provide a copy of their most recent report card, and demonstrate individual excellence in areas such as volunteer/work experience, extracurricular activities, and academic performance. All applications were evaluated upon a 100-point rubric that were based upon the following criteria: academics (grades/essay) = 60 points, extra-curricular/volunteerism = 30 points, and attendance = 10 points.
Kwak is a graduate of Lyons Township High School and in late May of this year, she concluded her 10+ year relationship with the sport of gymnastics, finishing as a USA Gymnastics Level 8 gymnast. After enduring almost 4 years of back pain due to a congenital condition, she underwent major spinal neurosurgery in October 2018. As a result of months of healing, she was able to assume the role as Team Manager at her gym, Flying High Gymnastics, and spent the remainder of her senior year volunteering and helping out her team in any way possible. This perseverance allowed for Hannah, and 3 other graduating seniors, to conclude their journeys and are able to say “I finished what I started.”
It’s Hannah’s volunteerism that is inspiring her future career. Over the past 3.5 years she has volunteered over 80 hours under the leadership of Jessica Miller, the head of Naturalism, at the Fripp Island Activity Center in South Carolina while visiting with her grandparents. She supported kayaking excursions, ocean seining, and shelling cruises, and assisted in teaching both adults and children about wildlife, habitats, and ocean preservation. Last, she cared for the animals at the Nature Center and has organized beach cleanups.
When asked what inspired her to apply for the scholarship she replied, “My mom actually texted me the link to the scholarship … and I was inspired to apply because I was a competitive gymnast for 9 years and I wanted to share my story of how the sport of gymnastics and the people in it have affected my life.”
“Our “Plum Cares” Collection was founded in 2016 to raise funds for causes and give back to our worldwide community, including the PCAS scholarship. We had almost double the amount of applicants this year and are constantly impressed by the well-roundness of the student athletes that apply,” said Debra Rizzi, Plum Practicewear partner and vice president of marketing. “Hannah’s story is a testament to how perseverance can get you through tough times, and positively mold who you will be in the future. We look forward to see where her love for nature will take her!”
Applications for the 2020 scholarship program will be announced in April 2020.