Bilingual Bulldog sets sights on UI engineering degree

Bilingual Bulldog sets sights on UI engineering degree

MAHOMET — At Mahomet-Seymour High School, Brisa McGrath is more than one of the fastest girls on the cross-country course.

The 18-year-old senior is also one of the top academic performers in the classroom.

McGrath ran for the Bulldogs at the state cross-country finals in Peoria the past two years and will begin engineering classes come fall at the University of Illinois.

The IHSA has recognized her excellence both on the course and off it by naming her to the 2018-19 All-State Academic Team, which will be honored today in Bloomington.

The bilingual Bulldog is the daughter of UI Lead Database Administrator Dan McGrath and Peru native Polo McGrath.

"I grew up learning both English and Spanish at the same time," she said. "It is kinda cool when I meet another young person who speaks Spanish and communicate with him or her."

"To understand Brisa, you have to realize she is a very humble person," said her father. "She is also very unselfish, always willing to pitch in to help somebody else. When Brisa puts her mind to something, she will dedicate herself to making it happen."

She said she was proud to represent Mahomet-Seymour at the state cross country meet.

"State is really exciting because you get to run against so many other competitive athletes and push yourself to achieve your best time," she said. "It is a really fun experience."

She said she is considering trying out for the Illini cross-country team. If that doesn't work out, she wants to be on a club team at the UI.

When she isn't running, you'll often find the Harry Potter fan reading a book or competing on Mahomet-Seymour's Science Olympiad team.

"This year, I did anatomy and physiology," said McGrath, whose favorite school subject is math.

"It is kinda fun for me," she said.

McGrath wants to study engineering at the UI as the first step toward pursuing a career in the energy field.

"I feel like studying engineering at the University of Illinois will open up a lot of jobs for me," she said. "I would like to work creating some new fuels for making green energy more available."

Her high school teachers will miss her when she heads off to college.

"Brisa is a bright kid, obviously, as she is successful in some of our school's most difficult classes," said one of her teachers, Eric Potter. "But she is also an extremely hard worker at everything she does."

"I will always remember Brisa because of how she ended her sophomore year," added M-S teacher Andy Seo.

"There was a tragedy at our school when a student suddenly passed away. As a result, the administration made all final exams optional.

"Brisa was in the rare 1 percent of students who elected to take the final exam. To take the final exam showed that Brisa was willing to do what was right, regardless of the consequences."

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