Elly Aronson is an accomplished scholar and athlete who has overcome personal challenges to rise to the top and has also shown compassion for others.
Aronson, who was born in an orphanage in Ukraine, has struggled both with sensory integration dysfunction and a severe form of the eye condition strabismus. She has overcome physical challenges through the years to take ownership of her situation and motivate herself to pursue her dreams.
A soccer player since age 4, Aronson fell in love with the sport and played with several club teams. At Gig Harbor, she was selected for the varsity team as a freshman — which, according to coach Todd Northstrom, is a challenging feat to accomplish.
“She fits the mold of hard-working and driven worker we look for within our program,” Northstrom says.
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Her hard work in soccer has paid off in many ways, including being selected for the state travel team and the Olympic development team.
Aronson says she learned many life skills through soccer, including time management and work ethics.
“There’s so many things it taught me about myself and it continues to help me grow as a person,” she says.
Her list of civic contributions is extensive, including trips with her Spanish teacher and other students to the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua to teach Spanish literacy and English to students in a poor community.
“Elly taught English and Spanish Literacy like a pro; the children in our programs fell in love with her,” says Alexa Shanafelt, who taught Aronson Spanish and led those trips. “She actively went into the community and befriended the locals, and furthered her own Spanish skills by visiting and sharing her kindness with those around her.”
Her passion to serve others is evident in her personal project she calls Keeping the Magic Alive. Aronson personally selects a family each year to sponsor for Christmas. She spent her own money from her birthdays and chores, asked friends and family for donations, and last year was able to expand to three families by presenting to Rotary members and receiving contributions from them.
“I am so grateful the Rotary helped because without them I wouldn’t have been able to do as much,” she says.
Her work on a film crew as well as her community service have inspired her to pursue a degree in either film production or social work, or a combination of the two. Her top school choices are Emerson College and Chapman University.
“I know I want to make an impact on people’s lives but I’m still trying to discover how,” she says.
Category: Overcoming adversity
Education: Senior, Gig Harbor High School
Parents: Kathy and Tony Aronson
Activities/Achievements: varsity soccer All-League, Coaches’ Award; varsity track; state soccer travel team and Washington state Olympic development team finalist (soccer); National Honors Society; Interact Club; 3 AP/Honors classes; volunteer for Basket Brigade, Outreach 360 and others; film crew intern
Favorite teacher: Dennis Johnson, chemistry. “He was easy to learn from, was willing to answer any questions and had an obvious passion for the subject.”
Best thing about high school: “The amount of energy the students and teachers give each day.”