Quantifying things is right up Elise Karinshak’s alley. In fact, you could say that she’s an expert at it. This senior earned a perfect score on her ACT, a 5 on her AP Calculus exam (one of many AP exams she’s aced), is a National Merit Commended Scholar, and was selected as a candidate for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. But Elise will readily admit that some of the best things from her 14 years at GAC cannot be easily quantified:
the moments during her mission trips where she was amazed at God’s power and the way He is working in the world; the laughs she’s shared with classmates who have turned into lifelong friends; and the words of encouragement she has received from so many of her teachers.
Elise’s resume is rich with accolades: National Latin Exam perfect score and gold medals, Scholastic Art and Drawing Awards, medals for top grades in her classes, Harvard Book Award, AP Scholar with Distinction, varsity letters, regional and state awards for track and cross country, and Presidential Service Awards. But this is not all that Elise is known for on campus. Most striking is the humility and positivity she exudes in everything she does. This comes through especially in her acts of service. Elise has won the highest service award at school for three years, reflecting years of work on GAC mission trips, being an altar server at her church, and serving through clubs at GAC and other service organizations. Most recently, she helped the National Honor Society organize the Special Olympics, a community outreach event.
A student with an incredible combination of analytical and artistic talent, Elise was convinced as a middle schooler that she wanted to perform on Broadway. After years of intense training with a ballet company, she was selected to be a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, an elite year-round program that prepares students for professional careers in dance. This was a defining moment for Elise. “While I declined this opportunity, I used this as a chance to reevaluate what direction I wanted to head from there and to really define what I wanted to experience in high school.” To achieve at such a high level in school takes intentionality and focus, which Elise managed to set for herself as an eighth grader.
The results are telling. Elise has been accepted as a Foundation Fellow at the University of Georgia, as a Stamps President’s Scholar at Georgia Tech, and has been offered several other major scholarships from other universities. These honors recognize her high scholastic achievements. With her bent for numbers and art, Elise wants to combine these aptitudes into a career in marketing. While in college, she plans to earn a triple major in marketing, data science, and business. She has already started to practice some of the skills needed to succeed in these fields. She is opening up an Etsy shop where she will sell digital copies of the nearly 50 art pieces she created in her AP art courses.
Being at GAC has been a big part of her success. Elise shares, “Beyond giving me a positive academic experience, it has helped me grow spiritually and emotionally and to mature into who I am today. I’ve had so many teachers who have served as mentor figures and have really helped me grow.” Elise continues: “My relationship with God has grown and changed a lot since I’ve been at GAC. When I started, it was very black and white, a basic understanding. As I’ve grown in my understanding through reading the Bible and being in classes at GAC, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of God and how He’s working in my life. I’ve learned to reconcile things to form a more full faith."
When asked what one of her guiding life principles is, Elise shares that it’s to always do her best. “This is pretty basic but it’s had a profound impact on my life. I always give my best effort because I have this idea in the back of my head, ‘why wouldn’t I do my best’?” For this talented student, doing her best has taken her farther than most people. And while the sky’s the limit for what Elise can achieve, she hopes to always be a force for good, giving back even more than she’s been given.