Sports star and Dora valedictorian plans future in sports medicine

<p class="p1">A love of sports and an interest in medicine has Dora valedictorian Ashlynn Vanatter planning to major in pre-med when she attends Missouri Southern State University at Joplin in the fall. She dreams of opening her own sports medical clinic in West Plains after she completes medical school at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.</p><p class="p1">“This path will not be easy,” said Ashlynn. “But I’ve wanted to go into medicine since I was a little girl. I will face many challenges, but I know if I stay determined the benefits will outweigh the sacrifices.” That determination and dedication to hard work have led to five state track championships so far in her high school career. Saturday, she qualified for sectionals after placing first in the 100-, 200- and 400-yard dash at the Class 1 District 3 track meet held in Hollister. </p><p class="p1">“It has been such a pleasure working with Ash the past few years,” said Dora track coach Angela Masters. “She and her family are always so appreciative and grateful in regards to her successes. I’m extremely proud of Ash for all of her accomplishments, both on the track and off. Ashlynn’s dedicated and devoted attitude will serve her well in future endeavors. I can’t wait to see what this talented young lady accomplishes!”</p><p class="p1">The only child of two working parents, Ashlynn says it was her father, Todd, and his career as a flight paramedic for Air Evac that inspired her to go into medicine. Todd, a Navy veteran, furthered his education after he left the military. “My career path definitely follows the path of my father,” Ashlynn said. “He is one of the main reasons I want to go into medicine.”</p><p class="p1">Her mother, Robyn, a first-grade teacher, also serves as an inspiration and role model. Robyn played basketball and attended Three Rivers Community College before transferring to study elementary education at Southwest Baptist University. Knowing that her mother was able to attend college and play a sport encouraged Ashlynn to plan on running track when she attends MSSU.</p><p class="p1">“My parents have definitely been my inspiration throughout my life,” Ashlynn said. “My mom inspired me to go on to compete in athletics at the next level, and my dad inspired me to go into the medical field.</p><p class="p1">“Although they inspired me in different ways, they support me the same,” she continued. “They are always pushing me and encouraging me in everything I do, whether it be in the classroom or on the field. They are always there for me, no matter what.”</p><p class="p1">But she draws much of her life inspiration from her grandmother. “She is the strongest woman I know,” said Ashlynn. “She was a victim of lung cancer who fought every day to beat the disease, and she finally did. However, the fact that she overcame lung cancer did not inspire me as much as her attitude through the whole process. “Every time I saw her, she had the brightest smile on her face. She was positive and never gave up hope.”</p><p class="p1">While Ashlynn enjoys playing sports in her free time, she has many other interests. One of her favorite things to do is to go camping. “It is always a good time when you get together with friends and family,” she said. “Being at the lake with my family is what makes me the most happy.”</p><p class="p1">Her activities and interests at school were many and varied. She was president of three different organizations, FCCLA, FBLA and student council, vice-president of Beta Club and treasurer of the 2017 Dora senior class. She was also an active member of D-Club and the Math/Science Club. </p><p class="p1">She was an active participant in softball, basketball, track and cross-country, winning all-state honors in softball and track; she also received the Aldo Sebben Award. </p><p class="p1">Outside of school, Ashlynn was busy volunteering for trash pick-ups and school blood drives.</p><p class="p1">Ashlynn says she’s grateful for staying busy during her high school years.</p><p class="p1">“Being involved throughout high school has taught me good time management and a good work ethic,” she said. Dora school superintendent Steven Richards says that, in addition to her successes at school, Ashlynn’s character shines to all who know her. “Ashlynn is an outstanding student, athlete and above all, she is a great person,” he said. “It says a lot about a person who is valedictorian and a five-time state track champion (and possibly more after this season) to remain humble and exhibit the character she does everyday. We were very fortunate for Ashlynn to be a Falcon! “</p><p class="p1">Ashlynn finds focus in her favorite verse, Matthew 19:26. “With God, all things are possible.”</p><p class="p1">“I relate to this quote because sometimes life is hard. Sometimes you want to give up but we don’t need to. This quote reminds me and reassures me that with God, I can do anything I set my mind to.”</p>

<p class="p1">Dora High School valedictorian Ashlynn Vanatter poses in front of Missouri Southern State’s mascot during a recent college visit. Ashlynn plans to major in pre-med when she starts there this fall.</p>

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