Kat Ferguson

Peach Schilling, Associate Editor

Some would call World Languages Sterling Scholar Kat Ferguson a perfectionist. A recent accident that occurred in cheerleading practice gave Ferguson a concussion, and rather than worrying about her broken nose or her injured head, Ferguson worried about missing school and cheer’s biggest performance of the year the following week.

Kat has always been a hardworking, successful, and busy student. School has always come easy for her, although she is not the type to brag about her grades, talk about her hard classes, or flaunt her high test scores.

“She has always been focused on school and most of it is driven from her competitiveness,” Kat’s mom Kerry Ferguson said. “We had no idea that she was applying for Sterling Scholar until [Carolyn] Ebert (Highland Spanish teacher) said something to me about it. Then [Kat] told us that she won.”

Most students who take Spanish in high school dread walking into class every day and not being able to speak their native language for the hour-long class period. After the two years of required foreign language credit, many will never speak a word of Spanish again.

For Ferguson, Spanish has been one of her favorite classes in school since seventh grade, although learning to speak a new language is not something that can be done with zero flaw.

“It’s so cool to be bilingual. I’m not yet, but I want to be,” Ferguson said. “My favorite part of speaking is getting to talk to so many different people.”

After her two years of Spanish education at Clayton Middle School, Ferguson started in Carolyn Ebert’s Spanish two class at Highland. She is now an AP student with 6 years of the language under her belt.

Although Kat has spoken to many people and learned from people that live in her own community, nothing can compare to her two weeks in Costa Rica during the summer of 2018.

Through an organization called Amigos de las Americas that focuses on language immersion, intercultural collaboration, and service for teenagers, Ferguson had the opportunity to live with a host family for two weeks and be exposed to a whole new world.

The group of teens worked with community members and together they picked a sustainable project to be completed. Because the community gathering space was old and damaged, the community members and visitors chose to rebuild it with materials that were obtained within the community or right outside the community. This would allow people of the area to find replacement parts if anything were to break.

Although Ferguson enjoyed working with people to develop their community, the language is what she is passionate about.

“The reason I went was to learn Spanish,” Ferguson said. “At the beginning, I was so terrified that I wasn’t going to be able to communicate, but I got to the point where I forgot I was speaking Spanish because of how natural it was.”

In order to understand and speak a language, being around native speakers is very important. The immersion aspect of Ferguson’s trip to Costa Rica was important to the development and confidence with the language.

“It definitely changed her,” Kerry said. “Her eyes were opened to a lot of things when she was able to see the difference between living there versus living [in Utah].”

Kat hopes to continue her development of the language and hopes to return to Costa Rica in the future to continue helping with sustainability. She currently plans on studying global business and ideally wants to become a diplomat of a Latin American country. If her plans change, don’t be surprised if you catch her working in the CIA.