Student. Volunteer. Entrepreneur. Ballerina.
There are many titles to describe Boutte resident Mary Clare Eastland, but to fully understand how extraordinary she is you must keep one especially important fact in mind – she just turned 16.
Eastland, a high school student who has been home-schooled her entire life, is also currently dual-enrolled at Delgado Community College. With classes like statistics and English already under her belt, she said she’s now working on her last few core college classes before graduating high school. She hopes to eventually work in the field of autism therapy.
And while school remains her focus, her flexible schedule has allowed for the development of many passions.
“I feel like being homeschooled, you can kind of set your own hours and times,” she said. “I am able to do all of the extra things, like volunteering and baking, that I would not be able to do if I was in school for eight hours a day.”
Eastland volunteered regularly at the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter before the pandemic – work she said she’s eager to return to as soon as possible. And even though she can’t volunteer currently, Eastland recently asked her friends to donate shelter supplies in lieu of giving her a birthday present.
“I had them all bring stuff for the shelter,” she said. “Last year I did Toys for Tots … each year I’m hoping to do an organization or charity. People kept asking me last year what I wanted, and I really didn’t know because I have all I need. I kept seeing all these holiday toy drives, so I thought I could do that and I did it and it felt so good to help other people rather than just get gifts for myself.”
Eastland was able to drop off over 70 shelter donations last week.
With her volunteer work off of the table because of quarantine, Eastland was able to develop a new passion this year – baking and decorating cookies. Her Instagram account, queen_of_sweets_15, shows off her work.
“I started baking right before quarantine,” she said. “It was about October of 2019 that I kind of started, but when quarantine started I had extra time so I really went in and made an Instagram and started selling them. It’s kind of crazy what can happen and what you can learn when you’re stuck at home doing nothing. I went from not being able to ice a cookie to now doing all these intricate designs.”
Eastland said while her dad taught her the basics of baking, she used Pinterest and Instagram as tools to develop her baking and decorating skills.
“These past few months, especially during the holidays, I’ve gotten a bunch of orders,” she said. “Easter really kicked it off, and since then each week I’ve had multiple orders.”
While she’s not baking and working on the yearbook committee in her homeschool group, Eastland can often be found dancing.
“I started when I was about 3, so I’ve been doing it for about 13 years,” she said of dance classes.
And while she has, and continues to, take different types of classes including tap, jazz, and musical theater, so she said it’s easy to pinpoint her preferred style.
“Ballet has always been my favorite,” she said.
Last year Eastland took the stage as Clara in the River Region Ballet’s 25th annual production of the Nutcracker. It is a role she was able to perform again this year in the company’s recorded and streamed offering.
“It was crazy because we were always told you could only be Clara once to be fair to everyone,” she said. “So last year when I was it was over the thought never came to me that I could possibly be Clara again.”
Because of the pandemic, the company offered Eastland the role again in their 2020 production.
“I was so overjoyed of course,” she said. “Like I said, ballet has always been my favorite.”
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