Each week we recognize and honor a WA alumnus. This week is our 2004 graduate Linlei Ward.
There’s no place like home. A community thrives by these words. If a community can instill this love of home in its young people, then even though they may strike out for the adventure of the unknown, they eventually wind up putting down roots in the familiar ground of home.
Linlei has called Kingstree home since her family moved here in 1994. She is a 2004 graduate of Williamsburg Academy where she was very successful – both academically and athletically. Academically, she was a member of and served as officer in numerous clubs and activities, was Valedictorian of her graduating class, voted Most Intellectual and Most Likely to Succeed, and achieved 13 years of Perfect Attendance. Athletically, Linlei was a standout in basketball, volleyball, and softball. She was a Wendy’s Heisman Scholar State Athlete, received the Lady Stallion Award, and scored a remarkable 1105 points in her high school basketball career.
After high school, Linlei attended Lander University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry in 2008. While at Lander she received an athletic scholarship and played basketball and rugby for the Lady Bearcats. She served as a Presidential Ambassador, a Head Resident Assistant, and received recognition and publication in the Scientific Journals for her research project. She was named Lander University Woman of the Year in 2012, and received the Lander University’s President’s Award which is the highest honor given for unique exemplification of community service.
Following Lander, Linlei attended and graduated from the University Of Georgia College Of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. While attending Georgia, she worked in both the large and small animal hospital as a surgical tech, in the Emergency and ICU as a vet tech, and also as a Student Herdsman for Mayfield Dairy. She participated in many clubs and activities and received the Hills Nutrition Scholarship.
After graduation, the last place on Linlei’s mind was Kingstree until the stars aligned and as fate would have it an opportunity presented itself. In January of 2013, she came home and went to work with Dr. Walter Cottingham, and in May of 2013 he retired and she purchased his practice and began putting down roots and giving back to her hometown. She has worked tirelessly to serve the community not only in her practice, but also by supporting community events and activities and promoting and educating the community with regard to improving animal care. She has started a non-profit, Ryelei’s Rescues, to care for and facilitate adoptions of animals in need in our community. She is a member of the Hometown Chamber and the Kingstree Rotary Club where she serves as Sgt-At-Arms. Linlei was awarded the 2016 Williamsburg Hometown Chamber Community Image Award. Dr. Ward continues to renovate the property that has served as a veterinary hospital for over 50 years, and has plans to continue to grow and expand so that the community can receive state of the art care for their animals even in a small, rural town.
Congratulations to Linlei Ward for being chosen as this week’s, “Where Are They Now?” Stay tuned as we seek to recognize and honor our alumni.