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Bright Future: Cathedral senior wins Best in Show at state junior duck stamp competition

NATCHEZ — The state’s Best of Show winner in the Mississippi Junior Duck Stamp program, Olivia Waycaster, said she simply tried to do her best work after realizing how difficult the competition was last year.

The effort paid off for the Cathedral High School senior, who recently learned she had won the competition.

Waycaster said she and her classmates began preparing their acrylic duck paintings as soon as they returned from Christmas break and worked on them for a solid two and a half months.

“It feels good. I’m proud that I was able to win it this year,” Waycaster said. “ … Because of how difficult it was for me last year I tried to pick an easy duck. I was picking out certain features — like the background, the grass and the color of the feathers — and I tried my best.”

Her painted duck, named “Bolt,” is a Hooded Merganser duck named for a white lighting bolt shaped pattern in his front feathers.

Waycaster said she gives part of the credit for her being able to win the competition to her art teacher, Andree Gamberi.

“I’ve done some art projects since I was little but never had the tools to do it well until high school. When I first started taking Mrs. Gamberi’s class in Art I, there were things she taught us to do that I thought I couldn’t do. She told me, ‘If I can teach so-and-so to do it then you can too.’ … None of us in her class would be able to do what we do without her.”

Waycaster is the daughter of JoAnn and Todd Waycaster. She is a member of the Greenwave basketball team, is cheer captain and is also a member of the Catholic Youth Organization planning committee, the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society and the peer ministry team.

Waycaster also dances with Natchez Ballet Academy and said she enjoys school — particularly math and science, sports, art and hanging out with her friends.

When she graduates, Waycaster said she plans to go to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and study either Biochemistry or Kinesiology for four years before going to medical school and perhaps specialize in either anesthesiology or prosthetics.

“Ever since I was little I’ve wanted to be a doctor. It’s a long-term goal that I’ve always had and I’m dedicated to seeing it happen,” Waycaster said. “I only recently started reading about prosthetics and it seemed interesting to me, but I’ve said for a long time that I wanted to be an anesthesiologist. … My parents always joked with me and say it’s because I like sleep, but I like that there’s a lot of math involved and that you’re able to help somebody deal with pain and prepare them for surgery. You get to help people in a lot of different ways.”