Nearly anyone who has ever participated in an art class here at Maclay School has met the biggest art and pottery connoisseur on campus. Every student knows Kaitlyn Dressel from either Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) every Friday morning, art class or just as a friendly face around school. While most think her world revolves around her art, her relationship with her family has played nearly the largest role in her life.

“We are all very obnoxiously close, and I would not have it any other way,” Dressel said.

Since she can remember, Dressel has been extremely close with her family, especially her siblings. She has three siblings, Tyler who resides in Tampa, and Caeleb and Sherridon who both live  in Gainesville. She has a unique type of relationship with each of her siblings and is individually close with all of them for different reasons. She continually seeks comfort in calling Tyler to vent to him, doing monthly check-ins with Caeleb and bonding with Sherridon over the fact that they are the only girl siblings. 

Whenever they come together, there is always non-stop laughter. Sitting with her family and simply having fun conversations is one of her most valued experiences. They do not have to be doing anything, as long as they are together they all enjoy their time. 

Another person who plays an enormous role in her life is her father who Dressel considers her hero. When her father got diagnosed with terminal cancer, her whole life changed. After a long battle with the illness and physical therapy, he ended up beating the odds and inspiring and supporting Dressel through her college career switches and all five years in school at Florida State University. 

“He’s the greatest ever,” Dressel said. “He’s so funny, he’s so smart and he’s always trying to better himself in every aspect of his life. Everyone talks about having a hero, and my dad is such an inspiration to me.”

Though Dressel and her family are pretty spread out through Florida, they make sure to stay connected and remain close like they have always been. Every summer, at least two members of the Dressel family hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) starting in Springer Mountain, GA, and ending in Mount Katahdin, Maine. Every year they pick back up where they left off the year before. Dressel’s father maps out the route and they walk roughly nine to 15 miles a day for a week. They have yet to finish the trail, but each year they get closer to the end. 

“I think my favorite memory with my family would just be, we hike the AT every summer together, so there’s always  wild stories from that,” Dressel said. “A week with them in  the woods with no phones, no distractions, you just get to know, I thought I knew everything about them but then when you’re just hiking like 10 hours a day, just chit chatting about life, it’s just really beautiful.”

Along with completing hiking the AT, one of Dressel’s biggest goals is to open a family owned coffee shop. She wants to combine her love for art, teaching and her family into one business where local artists can put their work on display and her love of pottery can be shown through making coffee mugs for the business.   

“One of my biggest goals in life is that I really want to have a family coffee shop where I can have local artists bring in their artwork to hang up or to sell,” Dressel said. “Bringing my family into it just made it sound like the greatest hang out place ever.”

No matter what is happening in anyone’s life, her family always makes sure to keep in touch and get together as often as they can. They all cherish their time together, especially during the holidays when they go on their annual Christmas cruise, hiking trips during the summer and all the little things in between. 

“It can be hard too, getting everyone together, but we just make it a priority,” Dressel said. “It can be spontaneous. [I miss you guys’, we’re all driving to Gainesville this weekend].”

Her sister shares the same beliefs when it comes to making time for those who matter. 

“I think that we’ll always live close together, but regardless of where we are or how much time we spend apart, I know that family is forever and nothing will change the love that we share for one another,” Sherridon Dressel said.

Her relationship with her family is one of the most important things to her and has shaped her into the person she is today. Although art is such a large passion of hers, her family will always come first.