BRUNSWICK — In the final weeks of high school, many students are tempted by “senior slide.”
But not Lily Mateus.
Mateus will be graduating with her Brunswick High School classmates June 8 at 7 p.m. at Bowdoin College’s Watson Arena, and has kept busy with a slew of extracurriculars in recent weeks.
And, while graduation is a huge milestone in any teenager’s life, Mateus also reached another big turning point in February 2017: becoming an American citizen.
Mateus plays softball, is involved in student government, is the Class of 2018 secretary, a member of the National Honor Society, an officer in the National Art Honor Society, a member of the Brunswick High School Players stage crew, and a member of the Yearbook and Interact clubs.
This fall, she will begin classes at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she will study costume design and technology – a decision, she said, largely influenced by her life in Brunswick.
As a daughter of the owner of Brunswick Cushion Co., Mateus said she began working with her father a couple of summers ago templating cushions for boats and learning upholstery.
She built upon those skills this semester during an “extended learning opportunity” class volunteering at the Maine State Music Theater, where she helped repair costumes.
“I actually learned a lot of the basic skills at MSMT, like how to sew on a button properly, how to do hand stitching to repair holes, and to attach garments to other things,” she said. “That’s helpful, but I’m also more interested in the design aspect, because my sewing skills, I’m improving as I say, (but) I’m not the best right now.”
Mateus was adopted by her mother from China when she was 11 months old. They lived in Seattle for six years before moving to Maine, where her parents met.
Ahead of her citizenship ceremony in Portland last year, Mateus said her parents “had been working towards getting her citizenship” for a while.
“It’s definitely not something that the everyday teenager would go through or experience,” she said.
Mateus said her progression into a school leader was also slow.
“I was always someone who kind of let others take the lead; I was always shy and nervous about saying anything,” she said.
Then, in the summer of 2016, Mateus was asked by Rick Wilson, Brunswick High School’s community service coordinator, to attend a leadership camp called Camp RYLA, an acronym that stands for “Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.”
“There, I learned a lot about stepping up and being a person people can look to, so it definitely helped looking at myself in a different way,” she said.
In addition to fashion, Mateus said her service work throughout high school, serving at places such as Preble Street in Portland through Interact Club, has also informed her career aspirations.
“I definitely know that I want to take part in the community again wherever I go, just make sure I know what’s going on in the community and give back,” she said. “I definitely want to see if my leadership skills and abilities can apply somewhere.”
Lily Mateus, a senior at Brunswick High School who became a U.S. citizen last year, will begin classes next fall at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in costume design and technology.