Your Neighbor: Meet Gillian McBride

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2023

By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

Gillian McBride was born in Wilmington before moving to Clemmons at the age of 4. “Spending my childhood on a cul-de-sac in the Clemmons West neighborhood was so much fun. In addition to my younger sister there were plenty of neighborhood kids always ready to play,” McBride said. “If not outside playing, I also enjoyed the memories made from creating art projects with my dad. He is very talented, and we would spend hours working on it together. My favorite thing to create was animals with colored pencils.”

In addition to time creating art, McBride was intrigued by a video that her dad showed her in the sport of Muay Thai. “I thought it was cool that women could be in a sport that was so male dominated. There wasn’t any pageantry about it and you didn’t have to get dolled up,” McBride said. “I trained for hours on end, did tournaments, and earned a spot on a fight team. However, I realized with time, while I loved the art and physical training of the sport, I didn’t love the violence of it. I couldn’t fight people that I just didn’t have any reason to dislike. I didn’t share that same competitiveness. I realized I loved the sport more for the traditions and the culture.”

McBride balanced her time also with theater. “When I was at West Forsyth High School, I was involved with the theater program all four years. During my sophomore year, I started auditioning for plays. It interested me so much that I had thought I wanted to go to film school for college at either the University of North Carolina at Wilmington or Appalachian State University,” McBride said. “Then COVID-19 happened, and all of the in-person programs at these schools were shut down. I didn’t want to be locked in a dorm room, so I really considered my options. I chose to start taking prerequisite courses at Forsyth Technical Community College. In the end, I think it worked out better for me. I felt lucky that I have a close relationship with my parents that they didn’t mind me staying home, and I also got more time to figure out what I wanted to do in the long run. I know a lot of people feel that they don’t know what they want to do but still spend a lot of money going to college to figure that out,” McBride said. “During that time when I was going to school to earn my associate degree in art history and sociology, I also worked part time at Novant Health in Clemmons. I primarily did administrative work in guest services, but it allowed me to get some valuable experience while going to school.”

McBride also worked during the summers as a coach for the Clemmons West swim team. “As a child, I had such a great experience myself as a swimmer. I spent four years coaching the kids out there, and enjoyed it tremendously,” McBride said.

McBride has taken on a new role professionally that has required her full-time attention though. “I work with DesiLu Photography as Lauren and Dave Clark’s assistant. They are a talented husband and wife team, and it was a serendipitous opportunity that got started about a year ago. Outside of being incredibly talented, they love to give back to the community by doing a lot of work to promote animal rescue. Just recently they did a food drive because it’s the beginning of kitten season. They do a lot of “Save Fursyth Sessions” and take photos of the animals to better showcase their personalities which ultimately helps improve their adoption rate. I have loved working behind the scenes to help support them in their efforts and have learned so much,” McBride said. “Their passion for taking such beautiful photos on top of their work with animals has been such a wonderful experience. Getting to interact with the clients has been fun too. They are so appreciative of the images that are created.”

In addition to enjoying her creative outlet, animal rescue has become a big part of McBride’s life. “My mom really has been very involved with rescue work. She is currently on the board of directors at the Humane Society of Davie County. We have had many fosters in our home, and currently have an adorable mom and litter of kittens that were abandoned. It’s so rewarding saving lives, seeing them thrive in their new families, and receiving updates about how much they love them. My mom has done some incredible work for countless animals, and it’s been joyful to spend that time with her doing it. You really feel like you’re making a difference,” McBride said.

McBride’s experience with local rescue has inspired her to continue to try and serve in other capacities. “I’m looking into going back to school for zoology and wildlife preservation. I would love to teach kids and younger generations the importance of kindness to animals and cultivate an understanding. I’m excited to see what that next chapter will look like,” McBride said with a smile.