An Interview with the Valedictorian: Mary Laird!

Annie Snyder '21, Co-Assistant Editor

A few weeks ago I had the chance to virtually ask the class of 2020’s valedictorian, Mary Laird, a few questions.  Thank you and congratulations, Mary!

What sports or clubs did you participate in your years at OC?

M: I participated in cross country, ultimate frisbee for 1 year (would have been 2 without corona), Model United Nations, Student Council as the class secretary, Girls of Steel Robotics for 3 years, and Global Competence Initiative!

How did you deal with the stress of balancing school work, extracurriculars, and other responsibilities?

M: To minimize my stress in balancing school and extracurricular activities, I would use my planner to set a schedule each week. I would make sure to think ahead so that I wouldn’t feel too much pressure to complete everything in a day. Striking a balance between time with friends and studying is the most important thing in dealing with stress. Making assignments fun and taking breaks helps manage stress.

What classes would you recommend at OC or did you enjoy the most?

M: I would recommend taking computer science classes with Ms. Blackmond, psychology with Mr. Finnegan, any language classes (but spanish is my favorite!), EPIC with Mr. Graner, literature with Dr. Doerfler, and any history course offered. After writing that down, I guess I’d recommend most of my classes! My favorite classes at Oakland have been AP U.S. History because I thought it helped me understand the current struggles in America and their progression. EPIC was another favorite course because Mr. Graner allowed the students to build gardens inside his classroom (and bring in a fish tank)!

Are there any particular classes, teachers, or clubs that really developed your passion?

M: Ms. McNulty’s lessons in human geography solidified my interests in incorporating global affairs in the future. Ms. McNulty’s classes are always engaging and the students are pushed to go beyond surface-level understanding of the issues. Additionally, I had never really considered studying psychology in college until this year! AP Psychology with Mr. Finnegan encouraged me to include psychology in my future and the lessons are applicable in daily life. Through Model United Nations with Ms. Rinkacs and Ms. Doyle, I was taken out of my comfort zone in certain situations and pushed to become more articulate when debating.

What are your plans for the future?

M: I don’t have an exact plan of what I want to do in the future, but I am currently planning to study finance and global affairs at the University of Notre Dame. My plans could easily change but I would like to continue learning spanish and another language throughout college. My current career ideas range from a news anchor to lawyer to businesswoman to psychiatrist so I’m looking forward to narrowing down a path.

What is you best advice for underclassmen regarding academics or just overall during the time of the pandemic?

M: To the underclassman struggling to stay motivated and the uncertainty of the pandemic, I would recommend setting realistic goals and timelines for yourself in the coming months. For me, I’ve found motivation from making small goal lists every day of a few things I can achieve. When anxiousness arises, I find solace in making lists for the future. Although we cannot predict the changes in the future, setting a timeline of things you are looking forward to keeps me motivated.