By Elizabeth Lowe
Caitlin Shanahan is well on her way to becoming a marine biologist, as the Mercy High School senior has participated in highly selective programs in exotic locales that should help her to further her dream.
After earning a spot in the People to People Ambassador Program, she spent three weeks in the summer of 2011 traversing Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef. Last summer, she spent a week in the Bahamas, studying sharks through a program at The Island School that focuses on marine research and sustainable development.
“I’ve always been passionate about water,” said Shanahan, who is specifically interested in sharks. “Science has always made sense.”
In addition, through an internship-like program at Mercy, Shanahan spent a couple days each month during her junior year working in the biology and chemistry labs of a Hunt Valley company.
“It was very eye-opening,” she said.
A parishioner of St. John the Evangelist, Hydes, Shanahan said she feels most connected to God “out in nature and praying.” She enjoys climbing a large tree in her front yard, where “you can just kind of feel him (God).”
A three-season athlete, the 17-year-old is a member of the Magic’s varsity volleyball, basketball and lacrosse teams.
Despite tearing the meniscus in both her right and left knees – at different times – and missing the basketball season her sophomore and junior years and lacrosse her junior year, Shanahan attended practices and games.
“I made the team,” Shanahan said. “I should still be at the practices, I should be at the games. I don’t know how you can make a team and stop showing up.”
After her surgeries, “we talked a lot then, me and God,” Shanahan said. “I have a belief that everything happens for a purpose.”
She has not yet selected a college, but plans to major in marine biology and possibly play lacrosse.
With a 3.49 GPA, Shanahan takes advanced placement and honors courses and is in Mercy’s honors program. She also tutors students in math, is a member of the Mercy Ensemble Players and a Girl Scout who has earned her Gold Award.
Mary Ella Marion, Mercy’s athletic director and varsity basketball coach, described Shanahan as a “very dedicated” student.
“She puts a lot of time into her studies,” Marion said. “She’s one of those girls working on homework during JV games to stay ahead.”
As an athlete, Shanahan is a “team player,” Marion said, who added Shanahan’s decision to attend practices and games after her surgeries “says a lot about Cait.”
Felix Sung, Shanahan’s academic adviser, said “her presence has certainly lifted my spirits.”
“Academically, she’s solid,” Sung said. “She works hard.”
Mercy High School
Credentials: Parishioner of St. John the Evangelist, Hydes; Girl Scout; tutor; Mercy Ensemble Players; plays varsity volleyball, basketball and lacrosse.
Copyright (c) Feb. 16, 2013 CatholicReview.org