My name is Olivia Bodway. I was born in Madison and grew up without a father after my first year of life, My mother and I have struggled financially as long as I can remember, and at two times in my life, when I was about age 1 and again when I was age 17, my mother and I lived with my grandparents to get by.
Despite never knowing what a “normal” family life was like, my mother made sure that I had the opportunity to participate in sports and church, and to get a good education. At an early age, I took both swimming and gymnastics lessons, but quickly focused on swimming, a sport at which my mother and two of her sisters excelled.
Through swimming, I learned about the importance of dedication to practice, heeding advice from coaches, and striving toward a goal. I also discovered the fun of being part of a team and saw my teammates as an extended family. Despite a long lasting shoulder injury, I worked hard and earned a spot on Memorial’s state relay team my junior year.
Just before my senior year, my mother and I had to move to Lodi to live with my grandparents. Given my shoulder injury and this move, I had pretty much made up my mind to quit swimming and to focus on academics my senior year. But, on the morning swim practice was to begin, I decided to join the Memorial swim team. I am glad I did. It was not easy getting up at 5 a.m. and driving to practice and getting back to Lodi after 7 p.m. but it was worth it in the end. Not only did I help Memorial make the state meet, I managed to achieve a 4.0 G.P.A. both semesters of my senior year.
Beside swimming, I have enjoyed learning gardening and lawn mowing at my grandparents house, and selling my homemade cupcakes at a Lodi farmers market the past three summers. Also, whether innate or not, I have long enjoyed helping others. For the past six years, I have volunteered almost every Sunday in the nursery at my church. In addition, for the past two years, I’ve had the amazing experience of delivering flowers and cards to patients at the UW Hospital as a volunteer.
I have always wanted to be a Badger, and was accepted at UW, but I committed to UW La Crosse because UW Madison appeared out of range for me financially. Then, one day, my counselor called me down to his office and told me about the Arndt Family Scholarship. We were unsure if I would receive it, but I decided to go for it. A few weeks went by and I sat on the edge of my seat day and night. The day finally came when a friend and I were awarded Arndt family scholarships. I knew immediately that my life had been changed dramatically. I could not believe that after years of struggling financially, somehow, my efforts were paying off within a matter of seconds. The Arndt family has made possible what I thought was impossible. Receiving this scholarship is truly incredible, and I wish I had the words to describe my gratitude to this family.
My experiences over the past five years dealing with my shoulder injury and more recently, volunteering at the UW Hospitals, have opened my eyes to my future path; a degree in kinesiology at UW. While pursuing my degree, I plan to be involved in extracurricular activities such as a weekly church group, the Wisconsin triathlon team, and volunteer opportunities at UW Hospital.
Following my degree, I plan to pursue a career in physical therapy or as a physician's assistant. I am excited to one day help others in the way my doctors helped me. And one day I hope to be able to give back to the community in a similar way that the Arndt family has given to me.
The impact this scholarship has had on my family is immeasurable. Never in my life have my mother and I shed so many happy tears! I promise to make the Arndt family proud.