Congratulations to the Whatakid of the Month, Kate Aleese McNeill! The recent Pleasanton High School graduate competes in the breakaway roping, pole bending and team roping at Region VIII.
Kate has been a member of THSRA all four years of her high school career, and before that was a competitor in the junior high division. Throughout her time as a member, Kate said she has learned a lot of lessons that are applicable, both in and out of the arena.
“My favorite part of the organization is how it expands outside of the area,” she said. “It teaches its members about leadership, responsibility and the importance of being there for one another. Texas High School Rodeo, and rodeo in general have taught me the importance of humility… which, without a doubt, has made me a more gracious and understanding individual.”
Additionally, Kate explained how rodeoing and everything that accompanies it - exercising horses daily, feeding all of the animals morning and night, ensuring each horse, steer and calf are all healthy and cared for - requires a lot of responsibility, and has played a big roll in developing a strong work ethic and time management skills.
When looking at her list of accomplishments and the extracurricular activities Kate has managed to excel at throughout her high school career, it’s very apparent she does not lack a strong work ethic.
Kate has qualified for THSRA state multiple years; served as Region VIII’s secretary, president, and team roping event director; acted as an NHSRA voting delegate, won state in the light rifle contest and has been a Cinch Team Member. Outside of the arena, she was a varsity soccer member all four years of her high school career, a member of National Honor Society, Student Council, Business Professionals of America, FFA, Student Legislative Conference Club and the Superintendent’s Cabinet. On top of all of that, she managed to rank first in a competitive class of 240 students.
On an average day during the school year, before quarantining, Kate said she would wake up, feed her animals and have a cup of coffee with her mom before heading to school. After school, she would stay to get my homework done or receive any extra tutoring for difficult classes. Then, from 5:30-7:00 she went to soccer practice (or a game), and then would come home to exercise her horses and rope.
Besides mastering the art of time management, and having a solid work ethic, Kate is strong and motivated. “I don’t like to pursue anything half-way,” she said. “I strive to execute my goals with full force, and I have been raised to be a person of my word. If I tell myself I am going to do something, I try my best to make it happen.”
Kate explained how her mother has played a big role in fostering that strength and motivation.
“She has raised me to be self-reliant and fed my confidence in authentic ways,” Kate explained. “She doesn’t praise me falsely for my ego; when she pays me a complement or acknowledges something I have achieved, it is truthful and heartfelt. This honestly motivates me and made me realize that hard work pays off and true success in life is built from the ground up through commitment and consistency. She strives daily to encourage and foster my personal growth, not just in my academics and achievements, but in growing into the woman I want to be.”
In the future, Kate wants to become a general dentist in a rural community, while also creating the opportunity for other people to interact, and experience horses.
Ultimately, Kate said she intends to build a practice that will allow her to comfortably raise a family while continuing her philanthropy with horse loving people as a benefactor. “At the end of the day life for me is more than academic or professional accolades,” she explained. “It is about helping others discover themselves through the benefits of a rural community where agriculture is still highly valued.”
In the fall, she will attend Texas A&M University pursuing a degree in animal science in an effort to leverage her knowledge of animals, and take a more unconventional route to becoming a dentist.
In the meantime, Kate expressed how being nominated for this award by her Region VIII family, and to be selected as the Whatakid of the Month, is truly an honor.
“I feel very blessed to be surrounded by so many families that have nurtured me and fostered my growth into the individual I am,” she said. “So many people in Region VIII have given me the platform and encouragement to grow as a leader and taught me skills that I will carry with me throughout life. The thing I find most rewarding about being a THSRA member is the friendships I have made with people across Texas and beyond - I would not be in the position I am today without the love and support from my immediate and rodeo families.”
We wish Kate all of the best as she continues to move confidently in pursuit of her dreams!