Earlier this month, Carson High School sophomore Callie Ward entered elite company when she was accepted into the Educational Program for Gifted Youth Summer Institute. Ward was one of 40 students worldwide selected for inclusion in the three-week course at Stanford University this summer.
How did your acceptance into the program come about?
They kind of came to me. I had been getting e-mails from colleges who were impressed with my PSAT scores and thought it was good I was looking at college. Then I got a letter from them saying they wanted me, so that wasn't what I was used to.
What did you have to do to get accepted?
"I had to submit an application and answer their questions about why I wanted to attend the program. I also had to submit two teacher recommendations; both Phil Brady and Brian Reedy recommended me. I chose the creative writing seminar so I had to submit samples of my work.
Why creative writing?
I like math and science a lot and I'm good at them, but writing is what I really love. I've never had a writing assignment I didn't want to do.
What do you hope to gain from the institute?
Aside from learning a lot of new things about writing and being taught by a real college professor, I think the cultural experience will be really beneficial. I could end up rooming with someone from a different country.
Why do you think they picked you?
I've thought about that. It's human nature to ask why they picked me. I want to get into their brains and find out why they chose me.
I tried to convey that I wanted to get in with my responses. I thought I had a good chance because when I have a dream, I put my mind to it and don't give up.
Where do you hope to be in five years?
Everyone asks me what I'm going to be when I grow up and my answer is 'that's a good question.' I'm a whole-brained person so I'm going to have to find my passion. I know that I want to help people so I'm thinking about pediatric oncology. I really would like to travel to different countries and help provide medical care.
My Made Up Destination
By Callie Ward
It's not my room, it's not my school, it isn't even the mall.
My favorite place is much better. It can top them all.
It isn't the zoo or Disneyland, nor a tropical beach.
My favorite place is much harder to find. To get there you have to reach.
You can't get there by a boat or plane.
You can't jump on a bus or catch the next train.
You can't take your bike or drive in your car
Because my favorite place is way too far.
The thing about my place, you see,
Is that it doesn't exist, except to me.
It does not have a concrete location.
My place is an idea, my imagination.
In my favorite place, all of the people would smile.
They would always have time to talk for a while.
I'd start each day with breakfast: cookies and candy bars,
And every day once the sun went down, I'd look up at the stars.
Such simple pleasures would fill hearts with joy; ambition and greed they'd erase
Because wealth isn't what you find in your wallet ... it means more in my favorite place.
The only explosions would be fireworks for every Fourth of July.
There would be no wars or vicious murdering to make people die.
No more hunger, fear, or pain. No more sickness or disease.
For the heck of it, my sky could be yellow; I'd do anything I'd please.
I would be the queen of a place which doesn't exist.
If it did, that would be nice, but the truth is this:
My favorite place is not real. It is only make believe,
An imagination nation, where no one comes or leaves.
My favorite place is simply an idea, one I'm willing to share.
I wish I could find it somewhere on a map, so I could visit there.
You could come with me if you wanted. From reality we'd take a vacation,
And I'd give you a tour of my favorite place, my made up destination.
Editor's Note: This poem recently won first place in Carson High School's Reflections Contest. The theme was "my favorite place."
What Keeps You Awake
By Callie Ward
It's not the monsters in the closet, or turning out the light,
That fills you with anxiety and gives you such a fright,
But it is more of the way you start feeling,
As you contemplate your ceiling.
The thoughts start forming in your head,
As you lay silently, alone in bed.
The worries of the coming day,
Can eat at you in a certain way.
The hopes, the fears,
The laughs, the tears,
Emotions of every kind,
Are whirling about like crazy, inside your troubled mind.
When all you want is to fall asleep,
Those relentless thoughts continue to creep.
They creep their way around your brain,
Until you think you'll go insane.
For whether they're thoughts that are happy,
Or thoughts that make you sad,
All of them whirling around at once,
Is enough to drive anyone mad.
The thoughts are like spilt marbles, careening across the floor;
Although you try to pick them up, it seems there's always more.
The thoughts are like the howling wind, you cannot drown them out,
The cacophony inside your head just makes you want to shout.
Whether they're thoughts of joy or sorrow,
You still have to wake up early tomorrow,
And as you glance at the time on the alarm clock neon red,
You realize just how late it is, which fills you up with dread.
No it isn't the things that go creak in the night, or the boogey man under your bed,
What keeps you awake the longest, are the thoughts in your very own head.
Your thoughts aren't like that light switch, you can't just turn them off or on;
To finally drift to dreamland you have to wait until they're gone.
Your thoughts have settled down, and you're warm and cozy sleeping,
When your slumber is interrupted by the stupid alarm clock beeping.
All of a sudden, just when your brain seemed to have a rest,
It's time to get up and go to school, isn't that feeling the best?
Editor's Note: Ward wrote this poem last year for a class. She said "I have always loved writing, but this is the poem I will always see as sort of an important first, and it made me realize I like to write poetry."