Meet our Graduate
Liberty McDonald, 2011 Graduate
MiraCosta College 2011 graduate and honors scholar Liberty McDonald feels “sparkly” about her outstanding academic achievements. A dedicated 4.0 student with an impressive list of awards, honors, service, scholarships, and research projects, she is a 2011 UCSD transfer student majoring in international studies.
In 2009, Liberty enthusiastically started on the path to her dream when she enrolled at MiraCosta College. With a glowing letter of recommendation from a dedicated instructor and a successful semester behind her, Liberty entered the Honors Scholar Program then poured herself into collegiate activities. She became a Spanish tutor in the language laboratory and then headed up the Spanish Club as president. Next, she used her involvement in the college’s Emerging Leaders Institute as a springboard to jump into student government, which led her to the position of student trustee representing the student voice on the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees.
Although her recent climb to success has been unstoppable since she enrolled in the spring of 2009, Liberty traveled a challenging, yet interesting route before she could focus on her longtime dream of education.
Leaving behind their homeland of England, Liberty’s parents traveled around the world in search of a natural and agrarian setting where their dream was to raise and home-school a family. They were charmed by the rural and enchanting County of Wicklow, near Dublin, Ireland, “The Garden of Ireland,” and decided to put down roots.
“Growing up,” says Liberty, “I was one of six children. My parents had been world travelers, and gave me the name Liberty because I was born on the Fourth of July. My father had been a professor at Cambridge and my mother was university educated as well. But, this was their dream. We raised chickens and grew vegetables. We didn’t have a car, and since we were home-schooled, we were very isolated.
Sadly, Liberty was only 12-years old and the eldest child still living at home when her mother succumbed to cancer, leaving Liberty to shoulder many responsibilities: soon, finishing her high school education was forgotten as other things became more important.
At age 18, Liberty started working in Dublin. But without a formal education, attaining anything other than minimum wage jobs was impossible. Within a year, she got the opportunity to travel to Paris with her older sister, where she worked for nine months.
“Traveling to Paris and working as an au pair was exciting and I felt such freedom,” says Liberty. Upon completion of her duties in Paris, she returned to Dublin and worked in the hospitality industry; yet she never gave up on her dream of pursuing an education.
Three years later, she began to study drama part-time in the performing arts at Liberties College in Dublin. She found it really interesting and when an opportunity came up to travel again, she took it. This time she traveled to Malaysia to work as a drama coach assistant, but found the program was disorganized, so she went back to Dublin after a brief nine months.
Working again in the minimum wage job market, she decided to resume her studies and pursue her high school equivalency. An invitation to a friend’s wedding at a beautiful and romantic castle led her to meet her California-born, idealist husband, who had left California in a quest for the country cowboy life in Ireland. The couple traveled to San Diego to help his aging mother manage some family responsibilities and then decided to stay after discovering the city’s equestrian life and scenic beauty.
Reflecting on her past, Liberty recalls the pause in her education due to her mother’s illness and the twist of events in her husband’s family that brought about the long awaited opportunity for her to resume her education.
"It was unexpected that we would stay in San Diego…but this gave me the chance to start college right away which I am so grateful for.”
Once Liberty and her new husband settled in their new home, Liberty researched community colleges in San Diego County and met with a counselor at MiraCosta College. She learned that a high school diploma or equivalency was not required to start college since she was over 18 years of age. So without hesitation, she enrolled at MiraCosta College to begin her dream of an education and has been remarkably successful in her academic pursuits. A hard working and determined student advocate, Liberty attributes her success to the friendliness of the campus and the strong sense of optimism and opportunity. She praises the encouraging professors and the plentiful and very supportive student services.
"Take every opportunity that you can to get involved in student activities, community service, academic events, study groups and the Emerging Leaders Institute,” says Liberty. “Being part of the Honors Program and being under the spirited and watchful eye of one of my professors, Christopher Sleeper, Honor’s Coordinator and my academic mentor helped catapult me. There is a close community in The Honors Program that expands your education, going beyond classroom learning.”