The best word Michael Brogley, a government teacher at C. Milton Wright High School, would use to describe 2020 graduate Kylie McCarthy is “persistence.”
“She’s a fighter — she’s got big dreams, big aspirations,” said Brogley, noting that McCarthy sets high goals for herself, and if she does not succeed the first time, “she’s just going to keep coming” at the goal until she achieves it.
Persistence will be a crucial quality if McCarthy, 17, of Bel Air, is going to hit her career goals, which include being a member of Congress and ultimately, president of the United States.
“I like to shoot for the stars,” she said in an interview before her June 10 commencement ceremony.
McCarthy plans to major in business at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and she might go to law school afterward.
“I eventually want to become a politician,” she said. “That’s the hope and dream, that I would become [a member of] Congress. My major goal would be president of the United States.”
McCarthy served as a National Honor Society officer at her high school, where her classmates gave her the “senior superlative” honor of “most likely to become president.” She also earned, as a member of Troop 7, the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts. For her Gold Award service project, McCarthy led a fundraiser to purchase food for Anna’s House, the Bel Air-based organization that provides assistance to families in need of emergency shelter, transitional housing and support as they get away from domestic violence.
“I’ve always wanted to be in a position where I could help people,” she said.
McCarthy, like all other Harford County Public Schools students, had to take classes remotely as schools closed for in-person instruction during mid-March to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. The school closures cut short her senior season on CMW’s softball team, for which she pitched and played first base.
The Mustangs only had one game in early March, a preseason scrimmage against Harford Technical High School that C. Milton Wright won.
“It was still a fun game, and it was a nice last memory to have at school,” McCarthy said.
The first few weeks out of school felt like a break from McCarthy’s regular routine, but “once it turned into a month and [then] two months, honestly, I felt like I was going stir crazy,” she said. Working on assignments delivered via digital format helped create a sense of normalcy, she noted.
She also works at a local Smoothie King store, although she was not able to go to work during the initial portion of the statewide quarantine. McCarthy returned to her job making smoothies — which she describes as “very chill and laid back" — once the first phase of Gov. Larry Hogan’s phased reopening plan kicked off in mid-May.
“I just like talking to people and working with people, so I just ask them how their day is going … have a conversion with them and make them feel good,” she said.
McCarthy said she thinks the COVID-19 crisis has helped her and her classmates prepare for the adversity and challenges that come with adult life. She and her family will face another challenge this summer when her mother, a sergeant major in the Army Reserve, is deployed overseas.
“It’s not ideal, it’s not what anyone wanted,” she said of ending her senior year without the traditional spring milestones. “But, it just really prepares us for what really happens [in life]."
McCarthy’s father, Frank, said the family is “very proud of her” and “excited about her future with George Washington on the horizon.” He noted that the experience of having to be responsible for completing her assignments away from the classroom helped prepare his daughter for college, where instructors do not lean on students to keep up with their work the same way that high school teachers do.
“I think that she’s definitely driven and wants to make changes [in society],” Frank McCarthy said.
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“For a 17-year-old to be that passionate about something is pretty cool,” he added.
McCarthy’s teacher, Brogley, teaches U.S. government and comparative government at C. Milton Wright. He had McCarthy as a student during her freshman year for AP U.S. government and during her senior year for AP comparative government. He described her as “one of the most ambitious and hardworking” people, and he praised how she treats others.
“When you have a conversation with her, she makes you feel like you are the most important person in that moment,” he said.
Brogley called McCarthy “one of those students that you’re going to remember forever.”
“Whichever path she goes down, you know she’s going to see it through, and she’s going to be immensely successful,” he said.
Brogley said there is “a feeling of loss” for the CMW Class of 2020, since the graduates have missed out on so many experiences. He characterized them as “a graduating class that’s full of empathy and full of compassion.”
“I have hope that they’re going to take this shared experience of loss and use it for good,” Brogley said.