Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a series featuring the lives of non-traditional students.
Whether it’s a No. 2 pencil, a shiny baton or a dusty bat, Natalie McQuiston always has a grip on her goals.
At 18 years old, McQuiston has achieved more than many do in a lifetime.
She attends Henderson High School and is set to graduate this spring as salutatorian with a 97.843 GPA. She has also earned a perfect 4.0 GPA after completing 30 hours at KC, only lacking science and math classes to complete the core.
Orderliness has been a factor in her success as a well-rounded student.
“Organization is key for me. I have a planner and I like to have all of my things together,” McQuiston said. “I like being involved and getting to know so many people through all my activities that I participate in.”
Like many students, she commutes to KC to attend class and takes dual credit classes at HHS.
McQuiston not only believes dual credit classes make the transition to the college life easier, but also feels they allow a much-needed head start.
Eagerness in McQuiston’s drive to finish college is evident.
“You have to get ahead and make use of your time. I would like to complete as many college classes as I can while in high school,” McQuiston said. “I feel that I should take advantage of every opportunity that I am given.”
She enjoys the fact instructors at KC treat students like adults, though she is not fond of having classes only two days a week.
“I feel like there is a lot of work in such a small amount of time,” McQuiston said.
Not only does she excel in the classroom, but also on the field. She has been a four-year member of the Henderson Lady Lions’ softball team, batting .450.
Her team was last year’s state finalists and is on a 35-game winning streak this season.
She plays shortstop, but has also played center field and third base in previous seasons.
“The reason I love softball so much is because I get to play with my teammates,” McQuiston said. “We all depend on and encourage each other day in and day out. I love the great feeling I get when I step on the field.”
McQuiston was awarded TSWA All-State Softball Player for the years 2010-12. She was also All-District MVP her freshman year, All-District First Team Infielder her sophomore year, All-District Offensive MVP her junior year as well as All-District Academic Team all three years.
Whether on her feet or in a seat, McQuiston is a force to be reckoned with.
She has played clarinet in the HHS Marching Band for four years and won numerous awards, including Band Sweetheart.
She was chosen as an All-Region Musician all four years as well as All-State Musician her freshman, sophomore and junior years.
“As a three-time member of the All-State Band, I was able to spend a week in San Antonio rehearsing and performing with the top high school musicians in the state,” McQuiston said. “The trip really influenced my love for music.”
During halftime, however, she trades in her clarinet for a baton.
She has been a member of the HHS Majorette Line for the past four years and a feature twirler for three.
“I always look forward to Friday nights and being able to wear my twirling uniform. Feature twirling was even more of a thrill,” McQuiston said. “I love being able to perform solo and impress the crowd with all my tricks.”
Her success has spilled over into her future college years.
Stephen F. Austin State University has accepted her, not only as a student but also a member of the Lumberjack Concert Band. She will also be trying out for Twirl-O-Jacks Saturday, April 13.
While at SFA, her goals are to study nursing in hopes of becoming an anesthesiologist as well as be involved in twirling and other organizations.
“I am very thankful for God’s guidance and the love that he has shown me throughout my life as well as all the talents he has blessed me with,” McQuiston said. “I hope that God’s love shines through me in all that I do for his glory and not my own.”