West Ranch dancer earns $5K scholarship after doubling the size of Christian club

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Scholarship recipient Katie Jurkowski at West Ranch High School on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Although her brother jokingly downplays the physicality, strength and stamina required of dancers, recently graduated West Ranch ballerina Katie Jurkowsi is being recognized as a top leader and athlete in all of Southern California.

Chosen as a recipient of the San Diego Fellowship of Christianity Excellence Scholarship Award, the award sends $5,000 directly to Baylor University in Texas, the school Jurkowski plans to attend next year, for 2019-20 tuition costs.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Scholarship recipient Katie Jurkowski at West Ranch High School on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

“I chose to go to a Christian university, and it’s private, so it’s more expensive to go,” said Jurkowski. “You work hard and certain things with financial aid and scholarships make it possible to go … but it’s nice to have help.”

Also known simply as FCA, the ministry is present on all high school district campuses in Santa Clarita, and unites students’ passions for faith and athletics on school campuses, according to Elaine Hineman, the FCA director for West Ranch High School.

“There is no real criteria to join, it’s all to glorify God through athletics,” said Hineman. “And I’m just going to tell you right now, in seven years at West Ranch, Katie surpasses all former (captains/presidents) by leaps and bounds.”

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Scholarship recipient Katie Jurkowski at West Ranch High School on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Praising Jurkowski’s mature leadership as something that transcended the typical senior or junior high-school-aged-student, Hineman stated that under the exited-senior’s tenure the club reached new heights.

“On a regular basis, we used to have like 40, but she easily doubled it,” said Hineman. “We even had 110 students one time … I never had a leader like her, where she was just so instrumental in rallying the troops.”

“She stuck out beyond anyone that I have worked with in the past,” Hineman added. “She was above and beyond the best leader we’ve ever had at West Ranch.”

Hineman added that there are thousands of high school FCA members part of the club locally, but Jurkowski is the first to be given the scholarship in the history of Santa Clarita.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Scholarship recipient Katie Jurkowski at West Ranch High School on Thursday. Dan Watson/The Signal

In addition to being the leader of the club, Jurkowski danced at a private studio off campus, was a member of the West Ranch Associated Student Body and West Ranch TV, and was a self-professed “nerd,” taking enough college credit courses to have already completed her general education requirement for Baylor. However, Jurkowski said though the club was one of the most important aspects of her life because of what it meant for her Christian faith.

“That’s the most important thing to me, it’s my highest priority,” said Jurkowski, in regards to her faith and why she worked so hard on building up the West Ranch FCA. “I had been really involved on campus … but it was nice to find leadership within my faith and in a very practical way.”

Jurkowski plans to continue on with her faith and her rigorous academia in a triple-major program, but she does not plan to be on the official Baylor dance team. However, the scholarship and lessons she had to learn in order to earn it will help her be successful when she finally walks onto her college’s campus, she said.

“The scholarship means a lot to me,” said Jurkowski. “And Baylor is going to provide a lot of growth for me and be a great stage in my life. It’s exciting.”

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