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Kelly Hill | | May 20, 2014

South Carolina-Aiken's Ward melds academics and athletics

  Andrew Ward will compete for a national title this week and then intern this summer.

ALLENDALE, Mich. -- When he is not on the golf course this summer, Andrew Ward might be found in the finance and accounting department at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. Ward, who is a junior at South Carolina Aiken, will be working as an intern this summer at “the benchmark federal facility for environmental management, national security and secure, clean energy,” according to the company website. Its corporate and community offices are located in a restored post office building in downtown Aiken.

Ward, who is a member of the USC Aiken Pacers men's golf team that is playing this week in the NCAA II national championships at The Meadows on the campus of Grand Valley State, also has been named as a recipient of the Elite 89 Award, which is presented to the competitor with the highest cumulative grade-point average at each of the NCAA's 89 national championships.

A business administration major with a concentration on finance, Ward maintains a grade-point average of 3.914. “I've had a few B+s over the years,” he said with a grin. Ward attributes his success in the classroom to solid study habits learned at an early age and nurtured throughout his academic career. “I wouldn't say that I pick things up real easily, but I put the time in that I need to,” Ward said. “Good grades have always been a priority with me. I think I have developed good study habits and that makes it a lot easier.”

Maintaining a near perfect grade-point average is particularly difficult, Ward said, when competing on a team that requires you to travel around the country. “It's tough with the classes we miss, and the tests,” he said. “Sometimes you are not as prepared as you might be if you were in class every day. The profs though, are generally willing to work with you. They know that it's difficult to study and play and travel around.”

Ward is not certain what he wants to do professionally after earning his degree a year from now. “I have always been interested in the world of business and finance,” he said. “I like numbers, and working with numbers.”

While he may not know exactly what he wants to do after graduation, Ward believes working as a financial advisor might appeal to him in the future, but he also knows he will need to gain a considerable amount of experience before people are willing to allow him to manage their investment portfolios. “I look at stocks sometimes, and I try to learn a little bit,” Ward said, “but you need an awful lot of experience before people will trust you that much.”

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, where Ward will intern this summer, employs approximately 6,000 people while another 4,000 who work at the site are employed by other companies or federal agencies. A major contributor to the local economy, SRNS generates over $200 million in procurements each year, as well as more then $250 in state and federal payroll taxes. “I am hoping to gain some experience there in the finance and accounting department,” Ward, who lives in York, which is located in north central South Carolina, said.

Ward posted a 10-over 81 in the opening round of the championships on Monday. “I played out of this stuff all day,” he said, dragging his foot through the thick rough. “I got out of position a few times and I paid the price. You are not going to score if you're not in control of the ball.”