Alumnae Spotlight: Cross Country And Track And Field Runner Kathryn Walker

Alumnae Spotlight: Cross Country And Track And Field Runner Kathryn Walker

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Goucher College Athletics Alumnae/I Spotlight! 

The Alumnae/I Spotlight is a Question and Answer feature of some of your favorite Gophers. We look forward to updating you on several former Goucher athletics and if you are a former Gopher and would like to participate in our Alumane/i Spotlight, Click HERE and we might use your responses for our spotlight feature! 

Today we put the spotlight on former Goucher cross country/track and field runner Kathryn Walker: Walker, a 2014 graduate of Goucher, was a conference champion on the lead leg on 2013 distance medley relay for the indoor championships and was named Landmark Conference Scholar Athlete for cross country in 2013.Walker has traveled the world since graduation and writes about her experiences. 

Why did you choose Goucher College?
Like many people, I discovered Goucher via the book Colleges that Change Lives. At the time, I didn't think Goucher would change my life but I did feel really drawn to the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, have writing-focused classes, and compete in Division III sports. I visited the campus twice-- once with my family, the other time for an overnight visit with the cross-country team-- and both times, was completely taken by the conversations I had with students and the activities and groups that were offered. After I went running on the trails, I was pretty much sold. 

How did Goucher College prepare you for the real world?
Goucher taught me that learning can happen any and everywhere, not just in a classroom setting. The "real world" was my classroom-- the streets of Paris, art museums and galleries in Baltimore, community organizers in New Orleans.These opportunities for experiential learning taught me how to listen, ask questions, and engage with people and communities different than my own. 

How did being a student-athlete help shape you into the person you are today?
I didn't run track until college-- and loved it. Ditto conversations and dialogue about social justice. Ditto teaching. Ditto just about everything. These new adventures, however, would not have been possible without the encouragement and belief of my coaches and professors at Goucher.  Somehow, they always knew what to say, what to do, to make me feel better or to push me in a new direction. They would just look me in the eyes and say, "I believe in you." And this totally rocked my world. 

Additionally, beyond time management, dedication, and leadership, being a student-athlete taught me how to engage and grapple with new and hard stuff, the uncomfortable stuff, and how to come out of those difficult situations with more empathy and understanding for myself and the people around me. 

What was your most memorable experience at Goucher athletically?
Looking back, the moments I'm most nostalgic for are the long runs through the Goucher Woods with my teammates talking and gossiping about the most random stuff.  We told and shared everything with each other. There were definitely races and workouts that are still ingrained in my brain as being "hard" or "memorable" but there's just something so special about running alongside the same group of people for four years that is really hard to beat. 

What was your most non-athletic memorable experience at Goucher?
Oof this is SO tough…  I think it's a split between defending and presenting my Senior Thesis and planning and organizing a social and environmental justice spring break trip to New Orleans my Sophomore year. 

What advice would you give current college students interested in pursuing a career in your field?
I've often times described Social Work as another version of an equity-focused liberal arts degree-- you can do so much with an MSW!! Similar to a liberal arts degree, an MSW allows students to go both wide and deep-- you can pursue a very very specific field or learn about a variety of broader concepts… or do both! When looking into graduate schools, take a deep deep look at the program, ask lots of questions, do lots of informational interviews, and try lots of jobs that push you and make you grow before making the final decision.

Looking back at your time at the Goucher, what advice would you give to current Goucher students or someone looking to come to the Goucher?
Don't be afraid of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, pursue your passions, and get out of Towson.  Go to Baltimore. Go to DC. DO NOT stay on campus every single day!!!! Take advantage of the places around you to really enhance your learning. 

Give an update on what you have been up to since graduating from the Goucher College.
Two days after graduation, I severely sprained my foot. The following day, I flew to Utah to begin my first "adult" job as a guide for an outdoor travel company. Since then, I have worked as a teaching assistant in France, served as a City Year corps member in New Orleans, taught  a cooking and gardening course, developed and implemented curriculum for leadership and culinary programs for elementary schoolers, conducted an impact assessment on and helped run a summer camp and worked for a non-profit in New Orleans that uses running as a tool for youth empowerment.  

Throughout all of this, I found myself constantly going back to the intersection of connection, story-telling, and learning, particularly for young people-- how do their stories get told? How do stories connect young people across lines of difference, inequality, and privilege?

After four years of wrestling and working with these ideas, I wound up deciding to go back to school to pursue a Masters in Social Work (with a concentration in School Social Work) at the University of Chicago. Moving to another place and starting grad school and navigating a new city have not, totally, been easy. But it feels like, in many ways, all of my seemingly disparate interests and jobs have finally found a place where they can all connect and make sense. I truly don't think this would have happened without the foundation that was laid out and created at Goucher along with the people I met who have been there all along the way. 

Anything else you wish to share?
Huge shout out to Coach Caslin for leading the cross country and track and field teams all the years.