Is She Named After the Cheese?


“She’s cool.”

“The coolest.”

“Is she named after the cheese?”


This was an exchange between me and a friend of mine back in freshman year when I first met Bri O’Callaghan. Can you blame me? She was smart, funny, and, though a little too energetic to be around at 7:20 in the morning, she was friendly to everyone she bumped into. Luckily, that included me.

Dancer. Planner. Writer. This is the story of Bri O’Callaghan, the girl named after a cheese. 


Part I: Humble Beginnings

Bri’s story, like many others, begins with trauma. Along with half of all American children, Bri is the daughter of divorced parents. But when one door closes another opens, and in Bri’s case, more than one did. 

“The first thing I can remember is my parent’s divorce,” Bri said. “It was super emotional. But at the same time, I was 3 or 4. I didn’t exactly understand what was happening. [The divorce] is where a lot of friendships bloomed, you know, being in two different homes. I had a lot of different opportunities to meet all sorts of people.”

Bri was not like other girls. She was different. While everyone and their mother rushed to catch the latest Hannah Montana or Kim Possible, one would often find Bri in the great outdoors. 

“I was extremely outdoorsy,” Bri said. “I was always climbing trees, busting knees. I never grew up watching the TV shows my friends did.”

She did watch Nanny McPhee, a film she loved as a child. 

“I have never—I could not watch it,” Jillian Parks said. “Her face was too scary for me.”

For a girl who did not watch any cartoons, her life sure resembled one. 

“I was raised in a unitarian universalist church,” Bri said. “We had a gay pastor and a unisex bathroom. I did not fit in. At all.”

Even so, Bri was able to survive all the commotion that is grades 1 through 6 with the help of dancing lessons. Over the years, busting knees turned to busting moves, as Bri picked up dancing at the age of eight. Ten years later, she will wipe the floor with anyone who dares challenge her to a dance-off. 

“I was extremely fidgety,” Bri said. “I refused to do ballet, I refused to do jazz, and then my mom got me a class with Ms. Tony, and I freaking loved it.”


Part II: The Wonder Years

“I think I changed friend groups like ten times.”

As many of us learn the hard way, being a teenager is not easy, and for Bri it was no different. While seventh grade was a walk in the park, eighth grade was quite the opposite.

“I had a very strong friend group of eight graders [as a seventh grader],” Bri said. “But the second they left, it all went downhill.”

It was through all the drama and gossip and twists and turns of junior high, however, that led Bri to meet one of the most influential people in her life. 

“I built a very good relationship with Mr. Dixen, my eighth grade math teacher,” Bri said. “He was a huge mentor and still is to this day.”

As Bri surpassed the many tests and trials of middle school, she tackled a much bigger challenge: high school. But as she quickly discovered, her biggest enemy was not the classwork, which she easily breezed through. Nor was it the drama, which she had no simply had no time for. No. The biggest challenge was herself.

“I definitely grew away from my parents between junior high and high school,” Bri said. “I think the second I realized there are some kids that only talk to their parents, that’s when I began to truly value them.”


Part III: What Now?

No one knows for sure what the future holds, but Bri’s got a pretty good idea. She will continue her studies at Lone Star, where she will continue to save money until she moves to Arizona State. 

“My major has changed like five times in the last year,” Bri said. “But I think I’m sticking with human and family development along with forensic psychology.”

When asked what she values the most, she naturally responds with family. 

“My family means everything to me,” Bri said. “[Also], trying my hardest to be true to myself, which is something everyone goes through in high school and beyond.”



“She’s cool.”

“The coolest.”

“Is she named after the cheese?”


This is an exchange I had this morning as I wrapped up this story—my final story—between me today and my freshman self. Bri is a hard worker, whether she is on the dance floor, writing a story, or planning someone’s birthday. Smart, funny, and not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, she has been and continues to be an inspiration for the newspaper staff and myself. Even though she may no longer write stories for the Paladin, her values and impeccable work ethic will continue to inspire the newspaper staff—both old and new. 


Bri is cool. The coolest. And she’s named after a cheese.