By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published January 31, 2013
A decade ago, after the 2003 Catholic Schools Week Mass for eighth-graders, I photographed two Holy Redeemer School students, Carlee Demetree and Caitlin Szabo, having fun during the lunch catered by The Varsity. The story of Demetree and Szabo is still unfolding, but they recently filled me in on what’s happened over the last 10 years.
Demetree and Szabo were good friends in middle school. Not only did they have a lot of the same classes, but they socialized after school, attended the same functions and sleepovers, and saw each other at their parish church, St. Brigid, Johns Creek. Demetree went on to attend Marist School, Atlanta, and Szabo attended Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell.
Both participated in high school sports. Demetree played junior varsity and varsity tennis at Marist, and she was a member of the state championship teams of 2005 and 2006, which represented the school’s fifth and sixth consecutive state tennis titles.
Szabo played volleyball for Blessed Trinity. She was one of the senior co-captains on the team that defeated their biggest rival, Westminster, to win the school’s first state volleyball championship.
“Over six years later, I still brag about our come-from-behind victory. It was an honor playing with those 12 girls and Coach (Paul) Stevens,” said Szabo.
Szabo and Demetree both achieved academic success along the way. In high school they were members of the National Honor Society and Szabo was the salutatorian of Blessed Trinity’s class of 2007.
Demetree received an academic scholarship to attend the University of Oklahoma in Norman.
“My mom’s family is from Oklahoma, so that was the initial reason for applying to a school in Oklahoma. I had many cousins that attended the university while I was there, and I had the opportunity to walk on the OU tennis team,” said Demetree.
Szabo attended the University of South Carolina Honors College in Columbia.
“The University of South Carolina was appealing to me in numerous ways. I really wanted to attend a big SEC school with a relatively strong athletic program and a lot of opportunities for students to get involved. I wanted football, school spirit, and diversity. At the same time, I liked the smaller academic community feel that the Honors College gave me, so it was really a win-win,” said Szabo.
In college each worked hard, joined a sorority and gravitated toward the sciences. Demetree obtained a bachelor of science in chemistry and biochemistry, and Szabo double majored in psychology and biology. They also remained connected to their faith. Szabo attended Mass at the University of South Carolina Newman Center and Demetree attended the St. Thomas More University Parish Catholic Center.
Once their undergraduate studies were behind them, they sought individual paths that fulfilled their personal interests. Szabo, 23, entered Charleston’s Medical University of South Carolina in the fall of 2011.
“I never had one of those epiphany moments about when I wanted to be a doctor, but I do know that I have always enjoyed science and the way the human body works,” said Szabo.
Caitlin Szabo is currently a second- year medical student at the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.
Demetree, 24, considered medical school, but she chose to pursue a career in music. She has been a piano player and songwriter since the age of 8.
“I had a hard time deciding to switch paths and pursue a career in music. There’s no guarantee or secret to success, and the percentage of people that can make a stable living is not exactly high. I went through a lot of battles with the people that I’m closest to, but I did it because I felt like that’s where God was lighting the way,” said Demetree.
She worked with an Oklahoma City producer to record and complete her debut, seven-song EP (extended play) album entitled “Resolve.” It was released last February and Demetree wrote all the compositions.
She moved back to Alpharetta over a year ago. Since then she has been tutoring students in math and science to pay the bills, but also is taking composition and voice lessons, writing music and learning as much as she can about the music industry. She plans to release some new music in the spring.
“I hope to do music fulltime and get exposed to as many people as I can. You never know how a song can affect a listener, and music is my best way of healing anything that I’m going through,” said Demetree.
While the last two years of their lives have taken different turns, their core values remain the same.
“I would say I’m the proudest of myself when I’m first-handedly making a difference in someone else’s life,” said Demetree.
“I have learned how to be a neighbor and a friend to those around me and how to reach out when others need help,” said Szabo. “As long as I know that my family and friends are there for me and that God will always be there as my guiding force, then I can trust that everything is going to turn out as it was meant to be.”
Carlee Demetree’s EP “Resolve” can be purchased on iTunes. You can also reach Demetree on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @CarTree.