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Q&A With Kathryn Sweeney (SHP ’21)

The recent graduate reflects on 13 years as a student at Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton
Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS): Describe your favorite academic classes or projects you were able to participate in at Sacred Heart Preparatory (SHP)—what were the most valuable take-aways?
 
Kathryn Sweeney (SHP ’21): One of my favorite academic subjects opened doors to experiences I didn’t know were possible. After taking AP Spanish with Ms. Ana Maria Lasala, SHP world language teacher, my sophomore year, I was itching to learn more. The language came relatively naturally to me, but I wanted more than the traditional classroom experience—you can only learn so much from textbooks and videos. That spring, I applied to participate in the SHS international exchange program. I was overjoyed to be paired with an exchange student in Barcelona, Spain. While years of Spanish at Sacred Heart had prepared me to the fullest extent possible, there was an inevitable disconnect between the lessons and real life interaction. My exchange trip opened my eyes to a completely new way of life; when to eat meals, first introductions, ordering in restaurants, the social scene. This trip forced me to advocate for myself and step outside of my comfort zone. A huge take-away was that while day-to-day life may be very different on the opposite side of the world, the Sacred Heart values and experience are not that dissimilar.
 
Tell us about the extracurriculars or athletics you participated in, what you liked about them, and how they helped you grow.
 
I was an elected member of class government during both my sophomore and senior years. Even though there was only a year between my two terms, my leadership experiences could not have been more different. My sophomore year I was a spirit chair, so most of my responsibilities revolved around spirit week. Except for in January and February, our meetings were laid back and focused on brainstorming, not action. Flash forward to my senior year and I am Associated Student Body (ASB) president. As I said in my “intent to serve” responses, I am a “determined and passionate leader with the capacity for growth.” Being on ASB was a huge opportunity for me to grow. The role required an exponentially larger public presence, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was forced to become a more efficient and  communicative link between the  administration and the student body. My leadership style became more flexible as I grew to accommodate the interest of four grades, not just one. As I learned to work with a larger group and more faculty moderators, I learned when and how to step up and step down.
 
How would you sum up your time at SHS?

It is really hard to fit 13 years of memories into a short answer! I will miss the community the most. I am thankful for the love I have received. I learned the value of dedication and following through on your promises. I expanded my capacity for growth. I became a better communicator and leader. My muscles gained strength in the pool and on the field. My heart grew to fit more friends, and eventually the people who became my second family.
 
What are your plans for the future, and how has SHP prepared you for it?
 
Next year I will attend Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA in the Lynch School of Education and Human Development. From the BC alum I have talked to, SHP has prepared me incredibly well for the rigor I will experience. I am excited to learn in a larger classroom setting, but know that the personal teacher connections SHP taught me to cultivate will shine through. I am super excited to engage with people who think differently than me.
 
But, before I leave, I will work as a camp counselor at Camp Ladera this summer. SHP has taught me to be caring and compassionate, which are key qualities of a counselor. SHP has also instilled in me the importance of responsibility and resourcefulness. I will be leading a couple of small groups of campers, which means I am responsible for their safety and well-being.
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Where Scholarship and Values Matter
Founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart, SHS is a Catholic, independent, co-ed day school for students in preschool through grade 12