• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS senior places third in scholarship competition

EMMA CRESS, a Woodford County High School senior, who recently placed third in a national scholarship competition, plans to major in animal science at the University of Kentucky, with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Woodford County High School senior Emma Cress placed third among nearly 300 entries from across the country in a “Scholars Helping Collars” scholarship competition sponsored by P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You).

“I was still excited – even though I didn’t win first place,” said Emma, 17. “To me, it’s not always about winning. So just being able to be recognized made me really happy. And I was able to select a location for toys to be donated to – that made me even happier because I love the Humane Society.”

Emma, an animal care provider at the Woodford Humane Society, will receive a set of five plush toys from P.L.A.Y., which she will donate to the nonprofit animal adoption center.

Her part-time jobs at the Woodford Humane Society and Crossroads Veterinary Clinic have reinforced her desire to become a veterinarian, she said.

“…I plan on becoming a veterinarian,” Emma wrote in her winning essay, “so working at the clinic has provided me with insight in this field and what life is like in the typical day of a vet and I get to do all of it while helping the animals.” Emma also wrote about having a strong connection with pets since the day she was born. Some even call her “the animal whisperer due to the fact that the most frightened animal will come to me...”

Emma wrote about visiting local animal shelters as a young child and starting her own nonprofit, Emma’s Pet Pantry, as a 14-year-old so she could provide free pet food to people in the community who could not afford to buy it.

Her love for dogs becomes obvious when she talks about walking into the Woodford Humane Society and watching a transformation.

“You can see them actually smiling,” said Emma. “Typically, they’re like really sad (when no one’s around) and they’ll give you puppy dog eyes, but when you walk in or interact with them or just say hi – they just get so excited.”

First-, second- and third-place essay winners of the Scholars Helping Collars scholarship competition were chosen from a pool of more than 290 entries from across the country. The first-place entry received a $1,000 scholarship.

Winning essays were judged as compelling and engaging, with a consistent theme throughout, according to a press release from P.L.A.Y. The San Francisco-based company creates and designs eco-friendly pet bedding and toys, the release stated.

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