Zulikha Gondal has determination. In fact, you could say the 2023 Council Scholarship recipient went to the mat during her last two years at Bradford High School in Kenosha. That’s when she not only wrestled for the Red Devils’ girls’ team but was also the school’s first girls’ wrestling captain to make it to the State Championships.
“I’m really competitive as a person,” Zulikha says. “Wrestling taught me so much about how to handle things. It’s been my most valuable experience.”
That’s saying something given how many other activities Zulikha participated in during high school, all while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average and making the Academic Honor Roll. She was manager of the boys’ football team. She was a member of the Link Crew Team, the organization that guides and orients incoming freshmen students. She played on the golf team. She was a member of the Latino Empowerment Club. And she logged hundreds of volunteer hours working in elementary schools as a library assistant and doing community service clean-up projects.
This fall, Zulikha—who speaks four languages—will attend a UW System school to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. “There are just not enough people in that field to do right for people,” she says. “I want to help others in ways that are really needed.”
Zulikha’s determination has helped her develop strategies for living with impaired vision. She notes that she has been fortunate “to meet some wonderful specialists who have taught me skills to adapt to my environment.”
Gary Vargus, Bradford’s Community Student Liaison and Girls’ Golf Coach, was impressed with Zulikha’s many talents. “She has overcome many challenges in her life by taking those challenges head on with critical thinking skills and a passion to succeed in her academics,” he wrote in his letter of support for her scholarship application. “Her drive to continue her education and to become independent is demonstrated by her perfect attendance and achievements since first coming to Bradford HS.”
This summer, Zulikha is working 40-to-50 hours-per-week in retail. While she soared through academics in high school, she understands that postsecondary education will bring a new level of challenges. “I just hope I don’t get a rude awakening in college!” she laughs.
Zulikha’s advice to younger students with visual impairment is pretty straightforward. “Advocate for yourself,” she says.