TAMA, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Ask South Tama High graduate Haley Shope what she was involved with in school, and she has to pause to catch her breath.
South Tama High School graduate Haley Shope sits May 18 in the school’s FFA greenhouse in Tama. Shope, a 2016 graduate, will attend Iowa State University in the fall. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
There’s jazz band and pep band, she said. Then volleyball, softball and wrestling. Oh, and National Honors Society. And, of course, FFA and 4-H.
When Shope graduated on May 15, she was in the top 5 percent of her class, too, and had over a 4.0 grade-point average.
“There were a lot of nights when I didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Shope said of juggling it all.
She learned to be a diligent student from her father, she said, who died when she was in second grade.
“Knowing how my dad pushed me when he was alive, and how my mom kept pushing me now, I’m not going to settle for anything less than an A because I know I can do it,” she said.
That drive helped her gain admission to Iowa State University with the credit hours of a second-semester sophomore. She plans to study animal science and go on to attend veterinary school to become a large animal veterinarian.
Then, she said she’ll probably move back to the Tama area.
“Just to give back to something that is near and dear is my heart seems like it’s for me,” Shope said.
Growing up on a farm in Toledo, a small town just north of Tama, instilled a love of animals in Shope. After she joined 4-H, she started tending to a flock of about 50 sheep.
“I don’t know what I’ll do without my sheep (in college),” she said. “I’ll be struggling in Ames without them.”
She also has a pet cow, named Jazzy Jean, that she shows at the county and state fair.
“She’s kind of a country kid, she’s a hard nose tough worker,” said Dan Lopez, Shope’s guidance counselor and a close family friend. “You can tell she grew up on the farm and she’s got that work ethic.”
Lopez could count on Shope to take the lead on any project, he said, be it helping a new agriculture teacher settle into the school or being a student representative at an event.
“Anything and everything she’d go above and beyond for,” Lopez said. “Just an unbelievable kid.”
Lopez said he knew Haley Shope’s father, Mike, when he worked in the school district’s maintenance department.
“He always asked me, ‘When my kids get up there (to high school), you take care of them,’” Lopez said. “Lo and behold, he wasn’t around by the time they got here. ... I always tell her that her dad would be way proud of her.”
That community support is one reason Shope said she hopes to move back home after college.
“The community has always been there, especially since we lost my dad,” she said. “Everything we needed they were there in a second, and I want to give back to the community that helped raised me.”