A dog named Boo solidified McRae Wiederer’s goal to become a veterinarian.
In second grade, the daughter of Ed Wiederer and Ginger DeShaney decided she wanted to be a vet. But she only lived with cats, so when she befriended Boo at the Paraclete Center, before she was even a student there, she asked the staff if she could walk the dog every once in a while to see if being a vet was something she really wanted.
“I said I wanted to be a vet in second grade, but that’s just something second-graders say,” said McRae. “So I wanted to confirm that I wanted to be a veterinarian. And that’s what taking care of Boo did.”
Her friendship with Boo — and two Adventures in Veterinary Medicine sessions (middle school and high school) at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, which was “ more confirmation that I wanted to be a vet” — led McRae to commit to Penn State and the Schreyer Honors College to study veterinary and biomedical sciences.
She selected Penn State for its honors college: “It will give me a leg up at the school and provide access to a lot of opportunities I might not have otherwise.”
She is looking forward to going to a Big Ten school, McRae said. “I want that traditional college experience, cheering on Division 1 teams and studying what I want to study.”
McRae eventually participated in the Paraclete’s robotics program and science classes. “A lot of the stuff I learned in school was just very basic stuff, but it wasn’t enough,” she said. “I wanted to know more things and the Paracelete offered specific classes. And the robotics program set me up well for the O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.”
The Paraclete is just one Southie institution that has had an impact on McRae. She also credits Miss Linda’s School of Dance, Gatey Basketball, and Little League Baseball with shaping the person she is today. South End Soccer (which has players from Southie) is also a big part of her life.
McRae has taken dance classes from Miss Linda for the last 12 years. “It’s been my only creative outlet,” said the O’Bryant senior, noting everything else she does is sports- or academic-related. McRae will look to continue tap dancing at Penn State.
Gatey basketball set up McRae for her high school team. “I was better off for high school basketball because of the foundation I received in the Gatey league,” she said.
South End Soccer has led her to excel on her high school soccer team and South End travel teams. For the last two years, she was captain of the O’B team.
After aging out of T-ball, McRae played Southie Little League Baseball, one of only a few girls in the league for the seasons she played. “Little League made me very competitive,” she said. “I needed to prove to the coaches that I had as much a right to be there as all of the boys.”
McRae boasts a 4.7 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale. She’s taken nine AP courses in high school.
While remote learning was not ideal for her, McRae worked hard to continue her streak of straight A’s through middle and high school. She is currently in the hybrid learning model.
McRae chose the O’Bryant for its math and science focus. As a freshman, she was selected for the biomedical pathway, “which set me up for vet-related opportunities.” She learned the skills necessary to determine diagnoses and how to write medical papers as the class required reports on different diseases every week.
Her favorite classes have been math and history. “Math is very practical and very logical,” traits McRae espouses. “History makes less sense to me but it’s fun to learn,” she said, noting she’s had amazing history teachers at the O’B.
McRae is a member of National Honor Society, the O’B Scholar-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Scholar-Athlete Ambassador Program. She is currently a manager of the O’B softball team.
During her senior year, she was part of the Sunrise Movement, where she did phone banking for candidates, endorsements, and worked on a statehouse campaign for more transparency.
In addition, she just finished up an internship with Save the Harbor/Save the Bay and works there in the summer as a junior program assistant.
How does she do it all? “I hold myself to extremely high standards and I make sure I fit my schoolwork in around everything else,” she said.
The O’Bryant is one of the schools holding its graduation at Fenway Park. “I just think it’s nice we’re having a graduation at all,” McRae said.