St. Catherine’s student awarded almost $2M in scholarships

Darlene M. Johnson | 5/9/2024, 6 p.m.
After applying to over 30 colleges and universities, 17-year-old St. Catherine’s School student Ava Holloway was awarded over $1.98 million …

After applying to over 30 colleges and universities, 17-year-old St. Catherine’s School student Ava Holloway was awarded over $1.98 million in scholarships.

Ms. Holloway, who has attended the all-girls private school since kindergarten, received scholarships from Virginia State, Old Dominion and Ohio State universities, among others.

Ms. Holloway’s grandparents have been a “super big support system” for her, taking her to visit colleges and universities when she was younger, she said. Amanda Lynch, a trauma-informed specialist and Ms. Holloway’s mother, also has been one of the senior’s biggest supporters.

“My mom has always been really vocal about wanting me to have a successful life and she has allowed me to go to various STEM programs all over the country when I was younger. (She) kind of just set me up for success, letting me try a bunch of different things,” Ms. Holloway said.

Growing up, Ms. Holloway considered a career in forensic psychology. She became interested in the field because her mother and grandmother watched mara- thons of NBC’s “Law & Order” series.

The summer before her junior year, she completed two courses in forensic anthropology and criminal investigation as part of a three-week pre-college program at the University of Miami.

Further coursework sparked an interest in biology. As part of a St. Catherine’s School program, she volunteered at a local animal shelter and traveled to Puerto Rico to work with animals. These experiences pushed Ms. Holloway to pursue a career as a veterinarian.

“I’ve always thought that Ava would be some type of doctor since she could talk,” Mrs. Lynch said. “She’s always been very interested in math and science. Those are things that came very natural for her.”

Ms. Holloway’s experiences also helped her decide to attend the University of Miami in the fall after her May 25 graduation. She plans to study marine biology and ecology on a pre-vet track.

Ms. Holloway earned the George W. Jenkins Scholarship for her strong academic standing, financial need and history of overcoming adversity. She said she is looking forward to making new connections and friendships as well as adapting to a new environment.

Another of Ms. Holloway’s achievements was the creation of Brown Ballerinas for Change after the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. BBFC is a nonprofit organization Ms. Holloway formed with three friends and fellow members of the Central Virginia Dance Academy, where Ms. Holloway has danced since she was 4 years old. BBFC’s goal is to “break the stereotype of ballet being seen as only a white art form,” she said.

She hopes to start a chapter of BBFC at the University of Miami.

Anne Wash, Ms. Holloway’s dance instructor at CVDA, is proud to have watched Ms. Holloway grow into a “caring, motivated and determined person” who “shines as someone who is persistent, motivated and thoughtful.” While under Mrs. Wash, Ms. Holloway performed in “The Nutcracker” in several roles.

“I have loved watching Ava grow up into the wonderful person she is today,” Mrs. Wash said. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her as I know she will do amazing things.”