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 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 studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa as a part of a service-learning program that incorporated both classroom learning and on-the-ground service work. While learning about poverty, development, South African history & politics, and one of the local languages in her classes, Catherine worked at an impoverished primary school of over 600 students in one of the most dangerous areas of Cape Town called Manenberg. When she wasn’t assisting in a second grade classroom, she instituted a first aid program at the school including a fully stocked first aid room and first aid training for students and teachers. Catherine is immeasurably grateful for the opportunity to learn, grow, and serve in such a spectacular city. During the spring of 2014, Catherine continued her work at Siloam and Ronald McDonald House. The Red Shoe Crew organized the first ever Bunny Hop, a children’s spring carnival that was successful in raising money for the House.
During the summer of 2014, Catherine worked at a health clinic in Uganda, working to upgrade the maternity ward and organize a resource mobilization team to write grants on behalf of the clinic after she has left Uganda. The team consists of community leaders and the in-charge at the clinic. During her senior year, Catherine will continue her work with Siloam and Ronald McDonald House. She plans to expand the Red Shoe Crew’s work and set it up for sustainability.
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.