One Story: Em McCarthy

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.52.06 PMThere’s no formal application or approval process required to merit a profile in Bluenote. Usually, someone or something is simply brought to our attention. Ordinarily, by an NDP faculty or staff member with the hope that we’ll do a story on the subject. Every once in a while though, someone isn’t so much intentionally brought to our attention but rather is always…well…just there. In our orbit. On our radar. Noticeable and worthy of attention because of her sheer magnetic attractiveness.  Senior Emily McCarthy is one of those people. We first noticed Emily 2 years ago as we roamed the halls shooting the admissions video for NDP. She was a sophomore at the time. She was game for anything and we used her in quite a few shots, as we recall. Then we kept running into her in the halls last year as we embarked on our first series of stories for Bluenote. Emily is now a senior and the trend continues. She’s just always there. And the reason we take note is the sheer power of her Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.54.14 PMpersonality. She is utterly charming and engaging. Always. If Emily has a down day (and who doesn’t) Bluenote has never seen it. She is by far one of the friendliest and politest students at NDP. And that’s saying a lot, because friendliness and politeness seem to be hallmarks of the NDP student.  But Emily stands out among her peers because she just goes a little further. Her charm and good spirit are sincere and genuine and are impossible to fake day after day, year after year. Perhaps it is her Irish heritage. And don’t be confused by her Asian features. She may not have biologically inherited the gifts of Irish gab and good humor, but make no mistake. She has inherited them. Not only that. She has perfected them to an art form. Emily – or ‘Em’ as she is called by just about everyone – is bright and chipper, funny and quick, and she had me smiling throughout our entire interview.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.39.36 PM“I was adopted from China at 9 months on February 16th, 1997. My Chinese name is Hua Ming Hua, which means beautiful flower, ” Emily explained.

“How perfect!”

“Thanks,” Em said casually. My first impression is that Emily is incredibly even. She is happy for compliments but doesn’t let them go to her head nor does she seem to harbor resentment. She pretty much lets perceived insults and injury roll off her back. Rather mature if you ask me.

“Well, for the first 12 years of my life, I was in day care and I thought it was a great Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.39.54 PMexperience! I pretty much learned all my people skills right then and there.” As our conversation unfolded, it became clear that Em is definitely a glass half full type who sees the positive in everything.  She went to St. Joseph’s Fullerton Parochial School for kindergarten through 8th grade before coming to NDP for high school.

“What made you choose NDP?” Bluenote asked.

“Well, I visited another competitor school first. I turned to my mom and said, ‘ OK, I’ve seen enough of this and never want to see it again…”

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.40.21 PM“Not for you?”

“…Not for me! Then, we visited NDP and I knew it was definitely for me! I fell in love with it right away. I shouldn’t have been surprised. My mom is an alum (Jeanne Barczak, ’80) and she loved it.”

“What about NDP attracted you?”

“Everything! The campus. The people. The gym. The service component. That was big. The library. The cookies…”

“The cookies?”

“Yeah! They’ve got great cookies!” Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.40.43 PM

Emily is clearly someone who takes great joy in everything. Big and small. I asked her what she has been involved with during her 4 years at NDP (besides sampling the cookies).

“Oh, lots. Lots of clubs. I’m in Mock Trial. The Environmental Club.The History Honor Society. Spanish Club. I helped with the big Gala this year,” Emily ticked off a long list.

“I’m not much of an athlete but I even tried my hand at Track and Field.”


“Yup. I hurdled and shot putted,” Emily said, matter-of-factly. “I didn’t really know how, but they asked me and I said, ‘I’m in.’ I kinda banged my head on the hurdle, but hey…I gave it my best.” Emily stated with conviction.  “And, uh, I’m also an Elected Official,” she added proudly.

“Really? What office?”

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.38.48 PM“I’m a class rep on the Student Council. I have been for a few years. Oh! And I’m involved with Habitat for Humanity.” Last year Emily joined classmates in Virginia building a house for a single mother and her children who lost their home to Hurricane Sandy. This year, she will be travelling to Mississippi to build another Habitat home for someone in need.

“What have you learned from your Habitat experience?”

“I could be a contractor! I’m not kidding! In Virginia, I made sure I learned something new every day. I spackled, mowed, dry walled. I used an exacto knife and worked my way up to power tools. I wired and…I’m tellin’ you. I can do it all!”

“Is that what you want to be?”

“A contractor? No. I want to be a teacher. I’m pretty sure I want to major in education.” It is no surprise. One of the things that we noticed about Emily is her rapport and imageCcamaraderie with all her teachers at NDP.

“The teachers here are great. That’s what I probably value most at NDP. My relationship with my teachers.” Indeed, as we sat in the Fish Bowl for our interview, every teacher who walked by waved and threw out a cheer to Emily.

When she is not at school, Emily spends much of her time at home with her 2 Golden Doodles, Finnegan and Molly, and with her parents who she clearly adores.

“I get my sense of humor from my Dad and my chattiness and friendliness from my Mom. I am so lucky and grateful to have them as parents,” Emily confided.

DSC_0242She also has a tight group of friends at NDP with whom she thinks she’ll be friends forever. She keeps them entertained with her jokes and accents (her Australian and Indian accents are spot on). Emily’s cheerfulness is infectious and her willingness to try things – regardless of the results – is seemingly unlimited. Emily explained.

“My thinking is, if it’s a YOLO experience…”

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 1.37.55 PM

“YOLO?” Bluenote inquired “Yeah. YOLO. ‘You only live once.’ From a Drake song. If it’s a YOLO experience, then I’m in. ‘Let’s just do it’ I say.” Words to live by. That ‘can do’ spirit is admirable and will no doubt help Emily go far. But, for Bluenote, it’s her adorable cheerfulness and constant good nature that won us over. She had us at Hua Ming Hua.





2 thoughts on “One Story: Em McCarthy

  1. Such a great read…maybe we will be lucky enough to have Em come back to NDP and teach one day!!

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