Division of Student Life

Courage to Climb - December 2013

Katherine Waxstein┬áis a senior who has taken on the task of completing a dual degree in Psychology and Child and Family Studies. Originally from California, Katherine’s family moved to Tennessee at the beginning of her freshman year of high school. A rare occurrence, Katherine received two nominations for the Courage to Climb Award for her enthusiastic and unshakeable commitment to service, diversity and inclusivity, and leadership.

Katherine exemplifies this commitment through her involvement in a variety of campus programs and initiatives. Currently, Katherine is active in the Leadership Knoxville Scholars program and the Diversity Educator program with the Office of Multicultural Student Life. She is the creator and instructor of Character Development at Pond Gap Elementary Schools in the University-assisted Community Schools Program as well as the chair of Aspiring Student Affairs Professionals. Throughout her career at the University, Katherine also served as an Orientation Leader and Student Orientation Coordinator with New Student and Family Programs as well as an Ignite! Team Leader.

Katherine became involved with the Diversity Educator position after being particularly moved by the diversity and inclusivity pieces of the Ignite! Summits where she first attended as a participant and later served as an Ignite! Team Leader. When asked about this experience, she said “[The diversity piece] was always my favorite part. Coming in as a freshman, it was so impactful for me to have that experience and open my eyes to tons of different kinds of people with tons of different kinds of backgrounds.” Katherine’s esteem for diversity initiatives has only intensified throughout her college experience at the University. She said, “As I’ve gone through training and am coming through my senior year of college, I have found that the most important and meaningful conversations I’ve had have been those conversations I’ve had with people who are different from myself or who have come from a different place...I wanted to facilitate as many of those interactions for other people as possible.”

Matched to her dedication to enhancing and promoting diversity on campus is her devotion to servant leadership. “I found a real love for working with my kids at Pond Gap. They’re my heart. They’re my everything. In my work with Leadership Knoxville Scholars, I found a new love for the city of Knoxville and getting out and exploring it and what it has to offer. Getting to know your community and getting to know the people in it I think is really important.”

Katherine intends to maintain her work with servant leadership after graduation. First, she plans to do service work for two years with Teach for America or City Year; programs that involve teaching and mentoring students in inner-city and low socioeconomic status schools. After her years of service, she plans to pursue graduate study in Higher Education Administration and College Student Personnel. “I would love to be one of my mentors one day or serve in their same role.”

When asked how she has been able to maintain such an active and involved role at the University, Katherine responded, “I think the reason that I’m able to do so much is that the things that I’m involved in are the things that I love to do.” Keep up the excellent work, Katherine!


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