#Leadership: Patrice McGloin ’19

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Patrice McGloin ’19

When Patrice McGloin ’19 stood before her fellow seniors at Commencement 2019 as one of the Nevin Orators, she said, “We have learned that we can actually know more about ourselves by learning to appreciate and understand the wealth of backgrounds that truly make up this community and every community we will belong to for the rest of our lives. Mercersburg taught us and dared us to take the time to not only listen to the unconventional story, but to actually make one of our own.”

McGloin’s own story at Mercersburg began with her brother Phillip ’14. He came to the school as a postgraduate, and McGloin remembers visiting him at Mercersburg and falling in love with the place. While her parents hadn’t planned to send her to boarding school, McGloin wanted something different for her high-school experience, and with her parents’ blessing, she applied to a handful of schools. As she recalls, it rained at each revisit day she attended, and that rain is what brought her to Mercersburg: “This was the only place that it was raining and miserable, and people still looked happy and excited to be around each other. That energy on campus drew me to this place, and it’s an energy that I’ve continued to be in love with over my time here.”

McGloin has given as much energy to Mercersburg as she has received. During her time at the school, she took on such leadership positions as editor of the Blue Review, dorm prefect, Marshall Society vice president, two-year captain of the volleyball team, Writing Center Fellow, book club president, contributor to The Mercersburg News (she helped start a multicultural column in the student newspaper), and president of the Black Student Union.

As president of the BSU, McGloin helped plan workshops, exploring diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day this past January. “MLK Day and being able to be a part of that programming and taking ownership of that programming really mattered to me,” she says. “That was an incredible moment.” McGloin underscores that one of the goals of the MLK Day programming and workshops was to “figure out ways to foster a sense of being okay with being vulnerable, being okay with being uncomfortable. It is really difficult for some individuals to talk about these things because they are not clean cut, but they have to be talked about.”

McGloin’s next steps after Mercersburg will take her to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as one of 75 Morehead-Cain Scholars from around the world. The Morehead-Cain Scholarship is the oldest merit scholarships in the country.

“I’m ridiculously excited to be a Tar Heel next year,” she says.

As part of McGloin’s scholarship, she will spend a month this summer rock climbing in Wyoming. This outdoor leadership experience is a unique feature of the scholarship designed to stretch students beyond their comfort zone, and McGloin credits Mercersburg Outdoor Education for instilling this love of climbing in her. “I never thought climbing would be something I was interested in,” she says. “I was mildly scared of heights, and bugs are not my thing.” But after receiving encouragement from her prefect during her first year and hearing from others on campus that she needed to try it, she decided to apply for the climbing performance group activity.

“I fell in love with rock climbing and how far you can push yourself mentally and physically,” McGloin says. “In a very cliché way, it was the safest place in my life where failure was an option in a small way. If you don’t make it to the top of a climb, you don’t feel great, but at the same time, when you’re in an environment where everyone is supporting you to try your best and do what you can do, you suddenly become very comfortable with, ‘Ok, I didn’t get it this time, I can get it the next time.’ And that concept that failure is necessary for growth is something that I really learned through MOE and through rock climbing.”

As for what she plans to study at UNC Chapel Hill, she is a bit torn. On the one hand, she is interested in international relations with a focus on China (she studied Chinese throughout her Mercersburg career and visited the country twice). 

On the other hand, she says, “I can applaud and blame MAPS [Mercersburg Advanced Program for Global Studies] for this—I sort of want to go into neuroscience with a focus in linguistics. I’ve been researching the impact of technology on the reading brain and what that means for modern literacy, and I’ve fallen in love with how the brain processes language.”

With all the options unfolding before her, McGloin is certain of one thing: “It’s going to be a wild ride—whatever happens.”