Making the Most of Her Time
Gates MacPherson ’19 arrived at Williston last year as a junior, transferring from the public high school in her Ontario home town. Making that kind of a transition—to a new school in a new country—can be challenging, Gates knew, and she was initially anxious about how she would fit in, especially on the athletic teams, as sports were a major part of her life.
Her fall sport was volleyball. “I didn’t know if I would be good enough to play on the varsity team,” she recalls. “But they totally welcomed me in with open arms.” By the time basketball season rolled around, Gates was more settled in. Her coach, Amber Rodgers, was also her dorm parent and advisor. “It was such an amazing learning experience,” she says, “playing with girls that had played for so many years at such an elite level.” By the spring, she was feeling fully at home and ready to focus on her track and field specialties, high jump and discus, the events in which she hopes to someday compete as a NESCAC athlete. “All three of the programs were phenomenal,” she says. “I can’t wait to be back here and experience it all over again.”
Indeed, Gates seems determined to make up for missed time, doing her best to pack four years of Williston experiences into two. “When I came up, I was afraid to fully dive in,” she notes. “I’ll be a lot more active in the community this year.” In addition to captaining the volleyball and track teams, she plans to serve on the discipline committee and as an admissions intern. “Now that I feel at home, I can live my senior year to the fullest.”
Adding to that feeling of comfort is the school’s financial aid package, which has eased the burden for Gates’ parents (her father is a truck driver and her mother works for the local municipality). “It was really great that Williston was able to go that extra mile for me and let me have this amazing opportunity.”
Gates has seen firsthand what Williston does best. “At my local public school, you were there because you had to be there,” she says. “At Williston, everyone wants to help you to be the best that you possibly can. It was a totally new experience for me. Coming to Williston was one of the best things I’ve ever done, hands down. I’ve learned so much and I’ve just grown so much, just from being here last year.”