FRANKFORT, IL — Frankfort native and Lincoln-Way East graduate Julia Ward always knew where she wanted to attend college. What she didn’t know, however, is that her dream school would reward her for her efforts in getting there.
Ward, an incoming cadet at Virginia Military Institute, was recently recognized as the recipient of the coveted Peay Merit Scholarship to attend VMI, which covers her entire tuition, room and board, and other costs, the school recently announced.
The scholarship, which was first presented in 2021, recognizes students who possess qualities of character associated with VMI’s 14th Superintendent Gen. J.H. Binford Peay. Students must also showcase exceptional leadership, academic achievement, athletic commitment, and a demonstrated interest in national service, the school said in a news release.
The Peay scholarship is the second honor Ward achieved after being named the recipient of the Navy scholarship earlier this year.
“I was ecstatic when I heard the news,” Ward said in the news release. “There were plenty of tears of joy and hugs all around when I received that call.”
Ward, who is an electrical and computer engineering major, is a member of VMI’s Band Company and hopes to join the school’s jazz band and pipe band as well. Ward also plans to compete on VMI’s water polo team after she played water polo and swam at Lincoln-Way East during her high school career.
She was a state qualifier in both swimming and water polo twice at Lincoln-Way East, where she is the school’s record-holder in the 400-meter free relay. Ward was also a member of the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program for four years and was the captain of the school’s Awareness Presentation team, which visited schools and spoke to students about assault and drug awareness.
Ward said that between the opportunity to compete in sports at the Division I level and receive a first-class education, VMI was always the school for her. She plans to commission into the U.S. Navy following her graduation in 2026.
“VMI checked all the boxes for me,” Ward said.
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