Julia Peters of Pennington, New Jersey, Winner of the 2020 Plum Cares Academic Scholarship

Julia Peters of Pennington, New Jersey, has been announced as the recipient of the 2020 Plum Cares Academic Scholarship (PCAS). This one-time scholarship, totaling $5,000, will support her academic studies at The George Washington University in the Fall of 2020 where she will pursue physics and will be competing on the varsity gymnastics team.

This past April, Plum Practicewear, a leading online retailer of gymnastics apparel and accessories, opened its application process for its 3rd Annual 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.

Peters is a graduate of The Pennington School and finished as a USA Gymnastics Level 10 gymnast from EPIC Gymnastics in Manasquan. Early in her gymnastics career, Julia found herself, like many in her sport, having to overcome fears of landing each skill in competition. But through one physics class, where she learned of the bravery of scientists who approached the unknown head-on, she began to apply that reasoning to gymnastics. “In order to be successful, I had to bravely approach what I perceived to be my limits as an athlete, this was the only way I could possibly transcend them,” Peters stated regarding how gymnastics has prepared her for the future. Beyond feeling “at home” through the sport, she has found the same love and interest in physics after that class. “I love a good challenge, and I have devoted much of my athletic and academic careers to exploring the fullest extent of my capabilities,” Julia said.

When Julia wasn’t in the gym or classroom, she was still devoting a significant amount of time to the same places that have helped her mature over the years. For the past six years, she volunteered at Special Olympics gymnastics meets, running scores, playing floor music, and assisting judges. At The Pennington School, she showed her pride by leading tours to prospective families and was editor-in-chief of both the school literary magazine and newspaper. But her services and extracurricular activities didn’t stop there with several hours spent at American Red Cross blood drives, HomeFront holiday events, and The Village Salon.

“Karma has its way of working its magic. Our “Plum Cares” Collection was inspired in 2016 by NJ gymnast, Emily McGill, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Our goal for this program was to raise funds for causes and give back to our gymnastics community, including the PCAS scholarship, which has totalled over $100,000 to date. Today, as our community is uniting to survive difficult times, it is humbling that our winner, Julia Peters, is not only from New Jersey, but she attended the same gym that Emily attended. Julia embodies character, passion, commitment and compassion - qualities of a leader. Plum is so proud of her accomplishments and we know she will inspire the next generation of student athletes,” said Debra Rizzi, Plum Practicewear partner and vice president of marketing.

To learn more about the Plum Cares Academic Scholarship visit PlumPracticewear.com. Applications for the 2020 scholarship program will be announced in April 2021.

Read How Gymnastics Has Inspired Julia’s Future Below:
Looking back, I feel that I found a home in gymnastics because my personality meshes so well with the nature of the sport. I love a good challenge, and I have devoted much of my athletic and academic careers to exploring the fullest extent of my capabilities. As gymnasts, we constantly push our bodies to the maximum, finding our own unique powers and, often, our limits. Equally, I have pushed my mind to maximize my experience in the classroom, allowing me to find what piqued my curiosity—what kindles the flame that I will feed throughout my career. I have found this kindling in physics, a subject that I have studied for two years at the Honors and AP levels and hope to pursue further at The George Washington University. Like gymnastics, physics invites us to examine our understanding of ourselves and what is possible. Having dedicated myself to these two challenging disciplines, I have found that my body and my mind mutually strengthen one another. Through gymnastics, I have grown as an individual who thrives in arenas that push me to my limits, empowering me to better know myself and the world around me.

Early in my gymnastics career, I struggled with a handful of paralyzing fears that narrowed my ability to grow as an athlete. From compulsories all the way to just a couple seasons ago, I never thought that I would flip a vault, double-back off bars, or turn a flip-lay in competition. I was afraid because I couldn’t fathom ever gaining the physical literacy to land these skills on my feet. I consistently envisioned myself wrecking my ankles on a short vault; getting lost and bailing in the middle of a double; and plummeting head-first down to the beam after missing the four-inch margin of error. My thinking and overthinking was gradually ruining the sport for me—I dreamed up my own rigid limits and refused to approach them in any capacity. However, as I matured as a thinker, I matured as an athlete. In my physics class that year, we spent a brief week on quantum mechanics, an unsolved mystery at the roots of our very existence. I considered the scientists with the bravery to approach the unknown—the people who pursue the upper limit of human understanding. I began to apply this reasoning to gymnastics. In order to be successful, I had to bravely approach what I perceived to be my limits as an athlete. This was the only way that I could possibly transcend them.

With a $5,000 scholarship, I would be further empowered to explore my capabilities within and beyond the classroom. I envision myself putting this money towards extra summer courses and travel opportunities that otherwise may not be accessible to me. As I have with gymnastics, I hope to broaden my possibilities as a college student and ultimately join the community of scientists that push humanity’s limits every day.