Mary Kate Parsons is a senior at Tumwater High School, an AP student, president of the Honors’ Society, a knowledge bowl team captain and year round dance team officer. While she is a normal teenager today, her story has a unique start.

In September 2000, infant Mary Kate sits alone, abandoned in a town square in Hefei, China. Found and taken in by people from a local orphanage, she is given a name, a birthday, and estimated to be four months old. This tragic situation was not uncommon in China where the one child policy stood from 1979 until 2015. This attempt at population reduction caused many Chinese families to favor boy children who could provide more help familial help with income or labor.

The following July, Karen Parsons traveled to China to adopt after being inspired by a family member who did the same. Upon seeing Mary Kate, Karen knew she was her daughter. After completing the yearlong adoption process, Karen and Mary Kate returned to Washington to begin their life together.

Mary Kate Tumwater High School
Pictured above are the books for three of Mary Kate’s four AP classes this year. They correspond to AP Literature, AP Calculus AB, and AP US Government and Politics (not pictured is her AP Computer Science book).

Mary Kate has loved learning for as long as she can remember. She first discovered her aptitude for math and science in elementary school, which quickly made them her favorite subjects. Combined with an innate love of learning, Mary Kate defines herself as being “extremely competitive.” These attributes motivated her to be in advanced math classes like other kids she knew at school. Having more challenging classes early on has helped her to become a high achiever and expand her academic fondness with fast paced learning that kept her interested.

In middle school, Mary Kate met a few bumps along the road. English, unlike math and science, was difficult and boring to her, making it the first academic struggle she would encounter. In eighth grade, Mary Kate placed into Algebra 1, a high school level math class, which was a daunting prospect. Looking back now, Mary Kate realizes that both classes – English and math –  forced her to work hard, focus and prepared her very well for high school and all of its classes.

Tumwater Dance Team
Mary Kate and fellow dance team officers celebrate leading tryouts for the 2017-2018 season. Photo credit: Tumwater Dance Team Twitter

Starting her freshman year of high school at Tumwater, Mary Kate surrounded herself with numerous honors, accelerated and AP classes in every subject, including a foreign language. She also has been involved in orchestra all four years in order to continue to exercise her creative side and to pursue her passion for the violin, which she discovered in fourth grade music class. Adding to her already well rounded education, Mary Kate joined the dance team, the Honors’ Society and Knowledge Bowl. The combination of a rigorous course load and lengthy, daily dance practices has taught Mary Kate how to manage her time and stress extremely well. Because of this she feels very ready and excited for college.

Despite all of the busyness high school has added to Mary Kate’s life, it has also allowed her to discover her passion. She explains that she wants to be a doctor in order “to help people by providing the surgeries that they need.” While being interested in almost anything new that she learned, Mary Kate kept coming back to the idea of becoming a doctor because it utilizes her strengths in math and science and will make a lasting impact in people’s lives.

She was also drawn to the occupation because it is a traditionally male field. “After being given up by my biological parents because of my gender, I want to prove that being a woman is something no one should ever look down upon again, and that women can be highly successful in any position or field of work,” shares Mary Kate.

Mary Kate
Mary Kate sits at her desk as her AP Calculus AB class is about to start. This class is very challenging but will prepare her very well for the medical field.

In order to achieve her dream of being a doctor, Mary Kate knows college will be an integral part of her near future. She has applied to, Stanford, Harvard, Dartmouth, Georgetown, University of Oregon, Gonzaga, Linfield College and University of Washington.

Among these prospective choices, she hopes to attend a school out of state in order to have a new adventure and experience life outside of her comfort zone. No matter where she lands, Mary Kate will surely soar. From her humble beginnings, sitting alone in a town square, Mary Kate has proved that anything is possible.

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