Gandhi once said, “A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their missions can alter the course of history.” Catherine takes this quote to heart and truly believes that a group of people engaged in small acts of meaningful service can affect lasting change in a community.
During Catherine’s first year at Vanderbilt, she served as a clinical volunteer for Siloam Family Health Center, which is a nonprofit clinic that provides quality healthcare for the uninsured population in Middle Tennessee as well as addresses the emotional, spiritual and social components of health. Catherine thoroughly enjoyed her experiences at Siloam, especially gaining first hand knowledge of effective avenues of service through medical care. She also participated in a Manna Project International spring break service trip to Quito, Ecuador working with severely handicapped children at Camp Hope.
Catherine continued her work at Siloam Family Health Center sophomore year cleaning rooms, performing patient medication callbacks, assisting doctors and nurses, requesting medical records, and other miscellaneous tasks. During sophomore year, Catherine also became involved with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Nashville, directly across the street from the Vanderbilt Medical Center. In high school, Catherine participated in the Red Shoe Krewe, which consists of high school juniors and seniors who serve as ambassadors for the Ronald McDonald House of Mobile, Alabama and had always hoped to start a similar group in Nashville. The RSK organizes events for the House, plans dinners and holiday celebrations for the families, and most substantially, raises money and awareness for RMH. With lots of planning and communication with schools as well as RMH staff in the fall, Catherine and a good friend launched the Red Shoe Crew in January 2013. The group consisted of 12 high school students from several Nashville area schools. The Crew members learned about the implications of service, cooked meals for the families, assisted in household tasks at the House, and executed a small fundraiser for the House. Catherine and her co-founder have recruited more students for the 2013-2014 school year and plan to incorporate student leadership positions and a large scale fundraiser for the House in the spring. Catherine also served as director of Mannaroo, a new fundraiser for Manna Project International, and participated in a Manna spring break service trip to Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic, teaching children in supplementary learning camps.
In the fall semester of 2013, Catherine will study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa as a part of a service-learning program that incorporates both classroom learning and on-the-ground service work. She is excited for the opportunities that await in Cape Town and also to learn what it means to serve fully in a new context and culture. Catherine eventually plans to be a doctor and is excited to see how the Ingram Scholarship Program will shape that goal. She is grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by a group of people she knows will push her to view her medical practice as a way to serve, and every opportunity as a way to better the life of another.