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"Nothing worth having comes easy." | A Duke Student's Advice on High School Extracurriculars

We had the privilege of interviewing Catherine McMillan and asked advice on: Extracurriculars

Catherine's accolades include:

  • a student at Duke University

  • a former student at the North Carolina Governor's School

  • her documentaries were featured in a screening at the National Museum of African American History and Culture

She share's some thoughtful words:

  • " doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you are passionate about it"

  • "You won’t get something right on a cold first sight reading"

Q: Which clubs were most useful to help you stand out the most for colleges? Were they mostly competitive or did you hold a leadership position?

A: I believe that it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as you are passionate about it and go in deep. That said, there are certain types of roles and opportunities that are good indicators to colleges that you have made an active effort to become exceptional in a particular area. Competing at the state and national level, holding leadership positions, being a youth voice in a space full of adults--these types of things stand out.

Q: Were your extracurriculars managed by your parents or yourself?

A: I took control of my extracurriculars. My parents often thought I was taking on too much.

Q: How did you determine what extracurriculars to join? (Friend recommendations, parents, personal interests, etc.)

A: I was actually (and still am) a great Googler. A lot of things I participated in came from googling opportunities and programs.

Q: If you were involved in music, what instruments did you play and for how long?

A: I have played piano for 15 years and trumpet for 9 years.

Q: Did you ever win any awards for any of your music?

A: Yes, I placed at several local/state piano adjudications and I placed at the state/national levels for original composition.

Q: Did playing this instrument become a large commitment?

A: It did, especially when competition season rolled around.

Q: What has being involved in music taught you?

A: It has taught me discipline and patience. You won’t get something right on a cold first sight reading. It takes hours of practice to learn and memorize the intricacies of a piece of music.

Q: How do you balance extracurriculars with home, work, and social life?

A: I was able to manage it because I didn’t really have a social life. I spent so much time on academics, extracurriculars, and work that I found that I didn’t socialize much outside of school.

See Catherine's LinkedIn account here!


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