Katie McDonagh: Baker Extraordinaire

Senior Katie McDonagh

Senior Katie McDonagh

By Connie Lay-Ngo

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When she has her cupcake carrier at hand, you can expect senior Katie McDonagh to be selling something deliciously colorful. From her famous tie-dye creations to her marshmallow Easter bunny decorations, McDonagh always tries to design her cupcakes to fit every occasion.

“I like to be festive and make [cupcakes] for the holidays,” McDonagh said. “Like, I’ll make cupcakes on St. Patrick’s day because I’m Irish.”

Baking runs in the family as McDonaghs’s family methods have been passed down from her grandmother, to her mother, and of course, down to herself.

“It all originated with Playdoh and it went from making Playdoh to making cupcakes. I like to make cupcakes because it’s kind of a good stress reliever.””

McDonagh uses her baking skills to help Breakfast Club and Yearbook raise money and is currently selling to raise money towards Relay for Life. With her long-time experience with baking, McDonagh has tried many different recipes and has learned to make many different sweets.

“[I like to make] tie-dye cupcakes, chocolate strawberries too,” McDonagh said. “I recently tried this new recipe where you put a cookie at the bottom and a cake around it.”

McDonagh’s tie-dye cupcakes are particularly popular amongst students. She shares that her secret to their enticingly vibrant colors are the dyes she uses.

“There’s a whole process [to make tie-dye cupcakes] and I would say the key is to get a good dye,” she said. “Certain dyes make them more vibrant. The cheap dollar dies don’t really do that.”

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Besides baking, McDonagh also loves to run and has been involved in cross country.

“Running clears my head, and baking also clears my head,” McDonagh said.

McDonagh is very optimistic, yet a bit nervous about her future after West. When asked what she would do with a million dollars, McDonagh replied that she would set money aside for her future child as she is “freaking out” about paying for college and wouldn’t want her kids to have to worry about paying for their education.

McDonagh is such a free-spirited person that she wishes she could spend every moment of her life doing what she wants to do most.

“I see myself living in a big city,” she said. “I don’t want to have a family until much later in life and I want to travel a lot. I want to live my life as much as I can. I would travel to Bora Bora because it’s gorgeous with the bluest waters and beaches.

“My dream is to lay on the beach alone while doing absolutely nothing. I’d lay around, read a book, and listen to music.””

 I would like to start my own business and then I would donate [money]  to a charity called Women and Me. It’s an organization in Chicago that helps women abused by their husbands. I help with them [now] and heard their stories of how they walk away from terrible situations. I would also give money to my parents.”

McDonagh believes that one flaw she sees in herself is that she tends to overthink things. When reflecting back on her high school experiences, McDonagh realizes how much she has changed since freshman year.

“I feel the school hasn’t changed, but I found out what was really important and not things I used to worry about,” she said. “My morals and priorities have changed. Softball used to be one of my top priorities, but I didn’t want to do it anymore because I wasn’t doing it for me, so I started caring about myself and stopped playing softball. One saying I go by is by Ernest Hemingway and it’s ‘When you stop doing things that are fun, you might as well be dead.'”

“I realized life shouldn’t be about doing things for others. It should be about doing things for myself instead of being miserable for a day because that’s one day you won’t get back. “”

As a senior, McDonagh would like to share a bit of advice to underclassmen.

“You have to challenge yourself,” McDonagh said. “You only have four years to give it your all. Get involved and surround yourself with quality people. Like, my best friends are always going to be there for me, and a lot of people don’t have that. Everyone should do a sport here [as well] because when you screw up in a team sport, everyone suffers and you just have to keep your head high, which is a concept that applies in the real world. Also, always dress up for spirit days.”

McDonagh will be attending the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to major in business and major or minor in political science.

“[My greatest achievement in life so far] was getting into the college of my choice,” she said. “I know it’s made my parents very proud because they didn’t have the same opportunities. I feel so lucky I get to live the life my parents didn’t have. It makes me happy that I can fulfill their dreams. I will miss sitting in the hallway before first period with my friends and complaining about all the tests I have to take.”

Curious about Katie? Here are some Fun Facts:

– Her favorite food is ice cream and she enjoys watching movies in her free time with a recent interest in foreign films. The last movie she saw that she liked was “Django” and she has watched “Inglorious Bastards” at least ten times.

– She feels that West’s English teacher, Sharon Swanson, has taught her the most valuable lessons about life and being responsible that she has not learned from other teachers.

– She used to play volleyball and softball and believes that they have “built so much character” in her.

NWN: Who is an inspirational figure in your life?

McDonagh: “My middle school principal. She took me under her wing when I was in eighth grade, and she taught me to pitch. She helped me when I didn’t have any confidence in myself and made me want to try hard and become a leader.”