Catalina Desmond, 18, of of Rock Falls, is Newman's February Student of the Month. Her parents are Deidre and Steven Mackay. She has three brothers, Aiden, Ryan and Caleb.
Favorite class: English. I have always enjoyed expressing myself through writing. My teacher, Mrs. Donna Spencer, encourages me to see the world in a different, more inquisitive light.
Least favorite class: Online AP U.S. history; enough said.
Favorite teacher: My French teacher from my middle school in Washington, D.C., was one I can confidently say shaped my desire to learn and succeed in my endeavors, both academically and personally.
School activities in which you participate: Swimming, Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Model UN, Math Team, and National Honor Society.
Civic, church, volunteer or activities in which you participate: I am a teacher’s aide for the second-grade religious education classes at St. Mary’s in Sterling. Over the summer, I volunteer as a summer camp counselor at an overnight Catholic camp in Maryland. I also play club soccer for East Moline.
Do you have a job? I am a lifeguard at the YMCA in Sterling.
How would you describe your group of friends? A fun-loving group of individuals who are determined, genuine, and really like calling me Hawaiian.
What will you do after high school? I plan to attend a 4-year university, where I intend to pursue a degree in English with a focus in pre-medicine studies.
What is something you learned in high school you think you’ll never use? For me, school is not about knowing “things,” rather it's having the ability to think through the information obtained. Knowing that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell will most likely not be used in my everyday life, but acquiring seemingly “useless” information such as this has shaped me into the student I am today.
What kind of music do you listen to? I just really like Ed Sheeran – like, a lot. And you can never go wrong with a little Chance the Rapper.
What’s one thing in your life you can’t do without? Definitely traveling. I have been blessed with many opportunities to explore the world and cannot imagine my life without those unparalleled experiences.
What is your advice for surviving high school? Four years goes by faster than you could ever imagine. Put the work in, get the grades, and don’t forget to laugh.
If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? Students could have access to more rigorous courses, more AP classes and more athletic selections to include soccer.
What scares you? That there exists a harsh reality where my pets only pretend to like me.
If you could try any job for the day, what would it be? I’d like to spend the day as an ecotourist – anywhere that has sharks so that I can show people what amazing creatures they are.
If you could go anywhere in the world for free, where would it be? The Great Barrier Reef, because I would love to be with great white sharks. Plus, you cannot go wrong with some shrimp on the barbie.
What is a good book you have read recently? Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to read recently, but practically any book by Dan Brown is a favorite of mine.
What is your proudest moment? Learning to ride my bike without training wheels as a 4-year-old. Ask my mom for the video.
Who is your hero/role model? My mom. She is such an intelligent and driven woman. Simply put, even if I become half the woman she is, I am certain I will still be quite an amazing individual.
What do you think your life will be like 10 years from now? I hope to be on the right track to becoming a neurologist and have more opportunities to explore this beautiful world.
Is there anything else you want people to know about you? I have a pretty sweet sticker collection from around the world.
What is your life’s philosophy? You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
Shout out to: To all the people who said I couldn't. Because of them, I did. Oh, and my nana and papa.
What is your favorite…
Food? Mac and cheese
Game or activity? Mancala
Movie? "Lilo and Stitch"
TV show? "The Office"
Sports team? Boston Red Sox