Kicking it with Mary
by Valerie Taylor
At first glance, Mary Alice Hughes may seem like your average fifteen year old girl. She loves reading, Auburn football games, One Direction, and obsessing over Criminal Minds. With a third degree black belt, however, and a teaching certification in Taekwondo, Mary’s skill in martial arts reveals that she is far from average. Her focus and dedication have driven her to accomplish what many cannot in an entire lifetime. Mary has practiced martial arts since age eight, and considers becoming a certified instructor her biggest accomplishment so far. It isn’t easy to do what she does, but the challenge is what makes her grow stronger in Taekwondo and even in her daily life. She prides herself in knowing that what she does isn’t easy. Taekwondo has taught her humility, perseverance, integrity, and confidence.
Mary isn’t planning on giving up any time soon.
“When I think about quitting, I remind myself that losing Taekwondo would mean losing a key part of my individuality. I have been doing it for so long and have such a great love for it that I can no longer envision my life without it,” she said. It has helped shape her into the person that she is and attributes her confidence, self-esteem, and individuality to what she has learned. It even helps her in school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, where she studies Creative Writing. She hopes to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and go on to study at Vanderbilt. She will do all of this while still advancing in Taekwondo. She knows that it will help her to achieve her goals because it teaches the importance of acknowledging when she has done something well by using visual representations and even helped her learn to make rational decisions under pressure.
Even after attending school, instructing Taekwondo at Impact Martial Arts in Pelham, and showing off her moves in competition, Mary still manages to take the time to make a difference in the lives of others. In the past three years, Mary was selected to mentor new students at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she is also a member of the Heritage Panel, a two day YWCA program that gives students the opportunity to explore the issues of heritage, culture, and discrimination in their community. With her Taekwondo expertise, love of English and Creative Writing in school, and her willingness to give back to her city, I think it is safe to say that Mary is one exceptional teen that Birmingham is proud to call one their own.