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    Weather disaster research, ministry ahead for Academic All-State 2024 Southwest students

    By Des Moines Register,


    Ryce Reynolds

    Mount Ayr

    ACT score: 32

    Class rank: 1/33

    GPA: 4.000

    College: Stanford University

    Major: Human Biology or Computer Science

    What challenges have shaped you, and how? One of my toughest challenges to date is the loss of two friends in a car accident this past summer. These two individuals were two years older than me and best friends with my older sister. For as long as I can remember, I looked up to those girls as older sisters of my own. As a child, I was always the annoying younger sibling who refused to leave them and my sister alone. I miss them increasingly with every passing day, but the lesson I learned from their passing is something I will never forget. Those two girls were full of life and enjoyed every second of it. Our lives on Earth are short — but that does not mean they have to be short of great people and even greater memories.

    ACADEMIC ALL-STATE 2024: Top 10 statewide | Full list | Northwest | Northeast | Central | Southwest | Southeast

    Mariah D'Attilio


    ACT score: 31

    Class rank: 4/80

    GPA: 4.070

    College: University of Missouri-Columbia

    College major: Psychology and Sociology

    What are your life goals? I will pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer by attending law school. Throughout my post-secondary education, I plan to study hard, make lifelong connections, and learn about how I can help other people. I want to represent and help those who are otherwise unable to do so on their own.

    My favorite place in Iowa: Lucas County. I have lived in Lucas County my whole life, and it truly feels like home. The roads are so familiar that driving on them can be therapeutic. The turning of the Redbuds at Red Haw State Park makes me feel nostalgic. However, my favorite thing about Lucas County is that many of my favorite people live here.

    My day is not complete until I ... have brushed my teeth, done my skin care, checked that my cat, Fluffy, has food and water, petted Fluffy, said good night to Fluffy and my parents, called my boyfriend, and maintained my Duolingo streak by practicing a few Spanish lessons.

    John White


    ACT score: 30

    Class rank: 1/98

    GPA: 4.000

    College: Truman State University

    College major: Math

    What are your life goals? I plan to earn a Ph.D. in meteorology, then become a trailblazer in the field by helping to reduce casualties caused by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, and other weather disasters by collecting data and information to better understand the processes that cause each weather phenomenon while continuing to grow my brand, WhiteWeather, and social media presence.

    What challenges have shaped you, and how? As someone who forecasts the weather and chases storms as a young business owner, on numerous occasions over the past five years that I have run my self-started business “WhiteWeather,” I have been questioned (or even berated) due to my forecasts and information. These comments used to bother me, but over the years, I have learned to not allow them to faze me. As with any hobby/career/passion, you must ignore those who doubt and deny your abilities and continue to persevere.

    Addison Holt

    Lewis Central

    ACT score: 29

    Class rank: 9/236

    GPA: 4.244

    College: University of Iowa

    College major: Nursing

    What are your life goals? I want to pursue a career in nursing, and I have a goal of reaching the Nurse Practitioner status. I would like to specialize in either pediatrics or dermatology.

    What challenges have shaped you, and how? In March of 2018, our house unexpectedly caught on fire. We were fortunate enough that no one was injured, and everything that was damaged was replaceable. However, this time was extremely difficult as we had to stay with friends and live in a rental home as we had to practically start our life from scratch. In the presence of adversity, what sets someone apart from being good and being great, is the mental toughness that it takes to get past adversity to reach their goals.

    My favorite place in Iowa: My Nana and Papa’s farm in the small town of Sidney, Iowa. What may seem like a normal 15-acre farm that is on every corner in rural Iowa is a place that holds my most cherished memories of my childhood.

    Axel King


    ACT score: 30

    Class rank: 1/17

    GPA: 3.974

    College: Undecided

    College major: Undecided

    What are your life goals? I would like to become a youth pastor, and then eventually I intend to become a lead pastor. I want to serve God and help people. I would like to get married and have kids, and I will be one of the best fathers in their generation. I also would like to get at least 10 streams on my Spotify music.

    What challenges have shaped you, and how? I had an uncle who got diagnosed with ALS when I was in late elementary school, and seeing someone esteemed for physical fitness slowly decaying in front of us was hard for me to process. I ended up isolating myself for years out of a hypochondriac’s fear of basic aspects of life. God answered prayers, and I have since been set on a path towards helping others who are lost and isolated, which has led me to many places. One such place was Twin Lakes Bible Camp, which provided me an opportunity to help students as a counselor last summer.

    ACADEMIC ALL-STATE 2024: Top 10 statewide | Full list | Northwest | Northeast | Central | Southwest | Southeast

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