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Cathedral valedictorian enjoys academic challenges

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral valedictorian Kandice Bailey loves writing, especially poetry. Bailey plans to attend Millsaps College in the fall, but will forgo the liberal arts for a career in the medical field.

By Mollie Beth Wallace

Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — After 12 years at Cathedral School, 18-year-old Kandice Bailey said she is extremely sad to say goodbye.

“I’m going to miss everyone here,” Bailey said.

Though tears of sadness will drench her goodbyes, Bailey said she cried tears of joy when she heard she was Cathedral’s valedictorian.

“I heard it, and I started crying like a little baby,” Bailey said. “I was so shocked I didn’t know what else to do.”

Bailey said she truly enjoys learning and admitted to being a little bit nerdy at times.

“Everyone else says it comes naturally to me,” she said. “But I feel like I studied just as much as everybody else.

“I always like to be challenged academically, because I want to see how smart I really am,” she said.

Bailey said she appreciates the sacrifices her parents, Kasandra and Curtis Bailey of Lorman, made to send her to Cathedral.

“I know I wouldn’t have done as well if I hadn’t gone there,” she said.

Bailey’s AP English teacher, Jean Biglane, said Bailey’s maturity makes her shine academically.

“She has an open-minded attitude,” Biglane said. “She is willing to hear different sides of an issue, and she is able to put her opinions into a discussion in a way that is not offensive, yet is still very staunch.”

Bailey said she thanks Biglane for helping her realize how much she missed writing poetry by assigning a poetry portfolio to the class.

“I started writing poetry when I was in sixth grade,” she said. “Back then, they were those ‘roses are red violets are blue’ type.”

Bailey said she hopes that she will always have time to express herself through poetry.

While she enjoys writing, Bailey said science is probably her favorite subject.

This summer, she said she will move to Jackson to work at University Medical Center testing pregnancy-induced hypertension. Bailey will live with her older sister, Summer Bailey, who is entering medical school at UMC this fall.

Her biomedical research teacher at Cathedral, Denise Thibodeaux, informed her of the opportunity since Bailey is interested in going to medical or dental school someday.

After spending the summer getting hands-on research experience at UMC, Bailey plans to attend Millsaps College in Jackson.

Bailey said she hopes to get a nice foot in the door, being so close to UMC.

Offered more than $450,000 in scholarships, Bailey had her choice of several schools, including Auburn University, Mississippi State University, Alcorn State University, Mississippi College, Tougaloo College and the University of Mississippi, but the small size of Millsaps appealed to her most.

Bailey said she will miss her parents, but she said she expects to see them often.

“My mother’s been planning Jackson vacations since she heard I was going to be at UMC,” she said.

Over the past year, Bailey said she discovered a love for working with children through volunteering at the Boys & Girls club when it reopened in Natchez.

“I think everyone should do it,” Bailey said. “Those kids are so much fun.

“I feel like they are so much smarter than I was at that age. They will spin some of the most creative little stories,” she said.

Though her mother calls her the “stress-free child,” Biglane said Bailey is a very persistent student who knows how to manage her time well.

“She’s got a very promising future,” Biglane said. “And she’s willing to work hard for it.

No matter which passion she chooses to pursue, Bailey said she is excited to figure out at which path she will excel.


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