By Lou Baldwin

Special to The CS&T

Nicole McGarry, a senior at Little Flower High School, knows exactly what she wants to do after college. She wants to be a high school teacher.

The eldest of the four children of Debra and Michael McGarry, she is a 2004 graduate of St. Martin of Tours School in the Oxford Circle section of the city.

Going into high school she was offered partial scholarships at two of the archdiocesan high schools, but after winning a coveted full-tuition Connelly Foundation Neumann Scholarship, she chose Little Flower, which was really her first choice.

“I went to an open house there and realized that’s where I wanted to be,” she said.

“The scholarship really made a difference. With three brothers in parochial school, I don’t know whether we could afford a Catholic high school. My parents really wanted me to have a Catholic education and I wanted it too,” she said.

In spite of a busy schedule she remains loyal to St. Martin’s where she attends the Saturday evening Vigil Mass and usually lectors every other week.

“I started in my freshman year. There was an announcement in the parish bulletin, they were looking for young lectors and I like public speaking,” she said.

McGarry concedes many young people of her generation are not regular church-goers, but for her, great satisfaction comes through the sense of community engendered by being part of the Mass congregation.

“It makes you feel you belong somewhere, and I think everyone needs that,” she said.

Her own spiritual sense was deepened this year when her religion teacher at Little Flower had all of the students keep a journal. “I’m doing that actively now and I think I’m going to keep doing it in the future,” she said.

Thanks also to the Connelly Foundation, this year she attended a Summer Scholars Program at Notre Dame University, before buckling down to her final year of high school.

A member of the National Honor Society, she is also a member of the Tri-Music Honor Society as a vocalist.

Although she is not considering music as a future career, it has been an enjoyable outlet for her talents at this point in her life.

She has sung in productions both at Little Flower and Northeast Catholic High School with roles in High School Musical, Beauty and the Beast and currently, Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Her other creative outlet is writing.

“I really like to write stories and poems. I haven’t published any yet, but I would like to,” she said.

As a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist, McGarry should have little trouble getting accepted at a top-tier university. Her preferred choices at this point would be “Princeton, Penn or St. Joseph’s,” she said.

While the particular choice of a college is still up in the air, she knows wherever she goes she’ll probably major in English.

“Ever since eighth grade I’ve really loved every English teacher I’ve had,” McGarry said. “It’s been a great experience and I would like to share it with other people.”

That’s settled. She would like to teach high school English, preferably in a Catholic high school, but where?

“I would like to teach at Little Flower, if possible,” McGarry said.

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.