"People tell me I am embarrassing, but in a good way," admits Kat Ladner '14. "I guess that is the effect of being wholeheartedly visible and present. I take chances and do random things that are completely out of my comfort zone."
To know Kat is to know and love all of her "craziness," but Kat is the first to tell you that she hasn't always been this way. In her recent senior Chapel talk, Kat described her transformation from a fearless, confident middle schooler to a scared, passive teenager lost in her large Florida public high school. On a summer program to Europe after her sophomore year, Kat rediscovered her sense of self: "I was this different person, someone who tried lots of things and went on bold adventures. I made friends by being myself for the first time. It was the best summer of my life." But upon her return to school, Kat found herself locked in her old patterns. She knew she needed to break free, and so she came to Middlesex.
She didn't transform overnight. At first, says Kat, "I really missed out on some stuff my first few months because I was too scared to put myself out there. I didn’t try out for Small Chorus or the play because I thought there was no way I could get in. I was convinced that everyone else was here for something that they were already amazing at and that I was doomed because I was not really great at anything." Slowly, Kat's confidence grew. She noticed that her English teacher, Mr. Foster, seemed to like her opinions in class. She joined girls' JV ice hockey, despite having skated only once before in her life, and found a team and a coach that were nothing but supportive. "I felt like a celebrity sometimes," recalls Kat. "I would wobble onto the ice, going in circles because I can only push off with my left foot, and the girls would cheer." Then she tried out for - and made - the spring musical. This fall, Kat joined the select a capella group on campus, the Small Chorus, and she recently performed a solo in Handel's Messiah at the Holiday Concert.
"Middlesex has made me whole again," says Kat. "It took time and it took bravery. I had to go out and take chances in a thousand little ways every day, but it paid off. I love Middlesex and I love who I am at Middlesex."
To close her Chapel, Kat brought the entire senior class together to sing "Why Not" by Hillary Duff. Watch the video of the senior class belting out the chorus, a perfect call to action after Kat's inspiring Chapel: "Why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? If you lose the moment, you might lose a lot. So why not?"