There is only one bad thing about birthdays, and that is trying to think of a wish. With family and friends hovering over the cake, paired with the end of the “Happy Birthday” song slowly creeping up on you, making your annual wish can be stressful. Unlike most girls, who often choose between wishing for a boyfriend or new makeup, senior Maeve McCaffrey has wished for the same thing every year since she was two years old — a horse.
Though her family took this as a joke at first, they soon realized that McCaffrey was completely serious. Finally, for her eighth birthday, she was gifted riding lessons from her mom. It may not have been the horse she expected, but she knew this was as close as she would get. From the moment she saddled up during her first ride, it was clear to McCaffrey that she found her passion. Immediately falling in love with horseback riding, her new hobby was finding ways to convince her mom to continue to pay for her riding lessons.
Her love for horses soon channeled into more than just a few laps around the course. McCaffrey began to find herself spending so much time outdoors that it became the only thing she enjoyed to do. Adding a rural setting to her list of things she loves, McCaffrey soon realized that she cannot imagine any other lifestyle. She fell in love with the idea of being able to walk outside and not have to worry about what anyone thinks, largely due to the fact that the nearest person is miles away.
“I try and escape the city as much as possible. That may include taking a walk in the woods, participating in an intense nature watch, or even simply driving up to Wisconsin for the weekend. People always ask me where I get it from, or if I was born in another state. All I know is that the Chicago urban setting is not where I belong… I’ve always felt that way,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffery’s love for nature is not only shown on the racing course, but it shines throughout her everyday life, with her differences always causing her to stand out from the crowd. McCaffrey recalls the days where she would be called a “hillbilly that lives in Chicago,” or “the only girl at Niles West who drives a pick up truck,” and she embraces the fact that she stands out from the “norm.” This individuality is recognized by every student in this school, and McCaffrey is well-deserving of the reputation she has earned.
Senior Gianna Mahoney has known McCaffrey since they were in fifth grade. Mahoney attended the same middle school as McCaffrey, and the two have played basketball together for years. Mahoney knows that McCaffrey is a friend who is one of a kind, and realizes that she is truly an inspiring figure.
“She’s always been herself. She never tries to be like anyone else and she never fits in. She’s one of those people that always stand out in the best way possible. She doesn’t care who you are, where you’re from, or what you do. She makes friends with anyone and everyone because she always finds the good in people. That’s hard to come by in a person, so it makes her special,” Mahoney said.
Best friend and senior Maddie Simkins has known McCaffrey since freshman year, meeting her through the basketball program. The two became friends immediately, and they have remained close ever since. Though Simkins wishes she had met McCaffrey sooner, she is happy that she has had the chance to get to know her these past four years.
“Maeve is someone I look forward to seeing everyday. Wherever she goes, she’s full of energy and has a super upbeat personality. Maeve is different from other people because no mater what, she’s always smiling. She’s one of the most friendly people I’ve ever met, and even though she has a wacky sense of style, you’ve just got to love her,” Simkins said.
McCaffrey will be attending the University of Wyoming next fall. After being directly admitted to the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which is ranked within the top 30 of the nation, she decided that her college experience would not be complete without her continuation of love for the outdoors.
“Even though I felt as if it was unrealistic, I always knew I wanted to have a career that dealt with the natural beauty of the outdoors. Finding a school that had what I was looking for (both financially and educationally) was tough, but I was lucky enough to stumble upon Wyoming. The rural countryside is beautiful, and I can’t wait to continue doing what I love for the next four years,” McCaffrey said.