Senior Spotlight: Riordan Gatwood

From flying through the air in cheer to igniting interest in math with waffles, senior student Riordan Gatwood is known for her tireless dedication to excellence in both academics and extracurricular activities. This year, she demonstrated her leadership potential both during her time as president of the House of Nicaea and president of the HSP chapter of the National Math Honor Society. In our latest Senior Spotlight, learn more about Riordan’s experiences and what she’s learned from her time at Holy Spirit Prep.

Riordan, can you share about your time at HSP, and how it has impacted you?

Riordan practices a cheerleading stunt with a friend

While I spent one of my preschool years at HSP, it wasn’t until sixth grade that I started attending HSP continuously. HSP provided me with a classical education, the likes of which I would not have received anywhere else. As someone who was always a math and science girl, I did not think I would enjoy learning Latin – but in that class, I learned everything from grammar to rhetorical devices. As a Percy Jackson fan, I also loved reading Latin mythology, and the etymology we covered has given me a head start on all the medical terms I will have to memorize in college!

During my sophomore year at HSP, I also discovered a new passion when I joined the cheer team. There’s no feeling quite like the adrenaline rush of flying for the first time!

Finally, HSP has helped me grow in my faith through retreats, weekly masses, and more. At school, the homilies are specifically geared toward the students, making the masses uniquely relatable.

What extracurricular activities were you involved in at HSP, and what did you most enjoy about them?

In my time at HSP, I was involved in the Pro-life Apostolate, One Apostolate, Choir, Musical Theatre, Diplomacy club, National Honor Society, Alpha Phi, Tennis, and Cheerleading.

I became president of one of the student houses, House of Nicaea, president of the National Math Honor Society, and co-president of National Latin Honor Society.

Riordan (front row, far right) and the HSP Cheerleading Team

I greatly enjoyed leading the National Math Honor Society, a recently restarted chapter that is developing new traditions – hopefully Waffles and Math will continue long after I graduate! Becoming House President was also quite gratifying and challenging; there are so many activities that I had no idea were organized by the student leadership. Taking on these leadership roles helped me grow as an individual and more fully live out the school motto: Ministrare non ministrari – “To serve, not to be served.”

Looking back, is there any advice you would you give your high school freshman self?

“Never give up on your future dreams – but step back every once in a while to smell the roses.”

Riordan after cheering one of her last HSP football games

As a freshman and well into my junior year, I was always so focused on preparing myself for the future that I would miss enjoying the present. There is a Latin phrase: vita brevis, ars longus, which translates as: “Life is short, Art is long.” Enjoy the little moments of life where you are learning something new, because it will take years to master. But remember that those years are comprised of days – days to learn and grow in mind, body, and soul. In high school, I loved to challenge myself, and I thought I had made it unscathed through the hardest year of school when I finished junior year. But then I walked into senior year with 5 AP classes, cheerleading, and House of Nicaea and National Math Honor Society presidential duties, not to mention my responsibilities at home. Two weeks in, I was exhausted, so I decided to drop AP Physics. When I told my dad, I thought he would be disappointed in me, but he said he couldn’t be prouder.

It is important to challenge yourself, but know your limits! You will be significantly happier if you aren’t attempting to complete an unrealistic workload.

Upon graduation, what are your plans for the future?

Upon graduation, I plan to study biochemistry at Georgia Tech on the pre-med track. I have been an avid Georgia Tech fan since I could walk – so while I’m sad that my time at HSP is coming to an end, I can’t wait to be a Yellow Jacket! After completing their bachelor’s program, my ultimate goal is to obtain a doctoral degree in medicine.

Fun facts about Riordan

What is a little-known fact about yourself?

Once at Georgia Tech, I will be joining cheer team!

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