Valley engineering student wins scholarship, heads to Notre Dame

Although it may not seem like much, it's a box made in a Xavier college prep class that helped McKenna Cassidy find her passion.

"You can keep things in it, it's a small area, but it's useful," she said. "The teachers that teach these engineering classes are so smart and really want the girls to understand all that they can do and pursue whatever their interests are."

She found that interest in the field of mechanical engineering, which experts say needs more women. It's a focus that made McKenna eligible for the Catholic Community Foundation's Ralph M. Knight Scholarship, which is a $5,000 prize that McKenna just found out is hers.

"Tuition keeps rising and for me, who's someone who has never paid a bill that large, it's a little daunting, so this lightens that weight," she said.

Good news that followed this is even more exciting.

"We burst into tears," she said.

McKenna is going to the University of Notre Dame in the fall, just like her mom, dad and grandpa.

"They were like, 'You can go anywhere, expect Michigan,'" she said.

The family ties are strong, along with the program that fits her needs. She'll be studying mechanical engineering, while focusing on her Catholic faith.

"A life without helping people would be a lack of use of my gifts and talents, so I hope to be able to bring some positive change to the world and use what I have to help others," she said.

After an exciting few months and with a bright future in the horizon, the first order of business is helping mom send her first child off to college.