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Medical dreams from Middle College
May 19, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Katherine Mahoney was a chatty little girl who got hurt a lot.

As a result, she spent plenty of time with doctors. She even toyed with the idea of growing up to be a pediatrician. As she got older, her focus changed to becoming a nurse. While doctors were often really busy, Mahoney said nurses had more time to make her feel comfortable. That’s why, after graduating from the Cañada Middle College program, Mahoney plans to study nursing.

"With her enthusiasm to learn and her incredible personality, Katherine has been a pleasure to teach and has been a wonderful part of the Middle College program,” said teacher Marcello Di Cicco. "Through Katherine’s determination to succeed, she has taken challenging courses and has improved her college transcript since first coming into the program. Her hard work and consistency have paid off where she has earned her way into the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Hawaii is lucky to have such a beautiful smile coming their way.”

Mahoney enrolled in Orion School, where she attended through fourth grade when she started classes at St. Pius School. Her parents wanted a different challenge for Mahoney. Mahoney played volleyball and basketball at St. Pius and swam for fun on the side.

When it came time for high school, Mahoney decided to attend Woodside High School. While there, she joined a community service group called the Octagon Club and a club that supports the Invisible Children organization. Mahoney had been nervous to go from such a small school to such a big one. While the first two weeks sometimes caused her to question the decision, Mahoney was ultimately happy at Woodside.

She was never really involved in school, however. She heard about the Cañada Middle College program from a friend and decided to go for it. While her mom was supportive, her father wasn’t sure at first. For Mahoney, the freedom to design her own schedule and participate in college-level classes was a welcomed challenge that taught her the importance of responsibility and self motivation. She loved sleeping in and got her license her junior year, the year she switched to the program.

It was intimidating at first. Mahoney was self-conscious about being 16 in a college class. Then she realized people were nice and willing to help, which made her more comfortable.

Regardless of where she was attending high school, Mahoney kept up with community service opportunities like Project Read, Second Harvest and helping her church.

Her decision to change schools means Mahoney will graduate and start school with a little over a half year in credits. Being at Cañada helped Mahoney challenge herself. Last year, she planned to stay locally for school. Now she’s excited to study in a new place and give living on her own a chance.


Cañada Middle College’s graduation will be held 3 p.m. Thursday, May 24 at the school theater, 4200 Farm Hill Blvd., Redwood City. Seats are first come, first served.


Great Grads is in its seventh year profiling one graduating senior from each of our local schools. Schools have the option to participate. Those that choose to participate are asked to nominate one student who deserves recognition.


Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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