Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

By: Courtney Henson

Kate McNeill, a name known all around campus. Kate is well-known and well-loved by her peers for her kindness, enthusiasm, and charisma. Over the past 4 years, Kate has worked incredibly hard in all of her classes. This work has paid off, and Kate will graduate as the valedictorian of the class of 2020! Kate plans to attend Texas A&M University at College Station to study animal science. When asked why she chose the animal science field, Kate said, “Because I was raised in a rural community, I have created some deep relationships with agricultural people and wanted to major in the College of Agriculture. I chose animal science specifically because I want to diversify myself as a dental school applicant and the coursework included the science courses I needed as prerequisites.

Being the valedictorian can require a lot of work, a lot of competition and responsibility, but to some people this competitive nature comes naturally! Lucky for Kate, she was born competitive. “In kindergarten I knew I wanted to have the goal of being valedictorian, which I guess was born out of my competitive nature. Then, when freshman year came around, I knew I had to take it seriously. After that, my perspective shifted towards college and I knew that more doors would be open for me if I kept doing well in school. I was motivated by knowing I would be putting myself ahead for my future and giving myself the best advantage when it came to college,” Kate said when asked what kept her motivated. Along with having to keep up with schoolwork and grades, Kate participated in many extracurricular activities. She was able to handle all of these things very well while also staying on top of her grades. When asked how she balanced both school and many of these activities, Kate said, “I always knew that I didn’t want to have to give up sports and rodeo in order to be successful in school, so this meant I had to really manage my time. Oftentimes I would stay after school until practice started to work on homework or get some tutoring. Just staying ahead on a day to day basis really helped me along with my teachers being very flexible and accommodating.

 Along with working very hard and balancing your time well, another thing that can help you stay ahead and create motivation is the people all around supporting you. The teachers at PHS can play a huge role in influencing the students’ work. When asked what teacher at PHS influenced her the most and why Kate said, “This is a hard one, but I would have to say Mr. Herrmann, my AP Physics teacher, had the biggest impact on me. At the beginning of my junior year I felt very overwhelmed by the rigor of his class and wanted to just change my schedule.  After a meeting with him, he reassured me that if I worked hard and accepted the challenge it would all be fine. I decided to stick with it which was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I not only learned the coursework thoroughly, but also learned how to push myself in ways I never had before.” Alongside the teachers, the only other adults that can influence and support you just as much, and more, are your parents. I asked Kate’s parents for some words and they had some very sweet things to say: “Kate has tremendous drive and a work ethic to be admired. She has also been blessed with excellent teachers and a school environment that has helped her thrive. We could not be prouder of her and are so thankful for this wonderful community who has supported her along the way.

Congratulations on everything you have accomplished at Pleasanton High School. We on campus could not be more proud of the things you have done. We wish you the best of luck and know you will do great things. Pride! Pride!

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