KayTe Kennedy's Epiphany
Inspired by a course during her senior year, this 2003 alumna directs her energy toward leadership and nonprofits.
How does a college student decide what course to pursue in life?
For KayTe Kennedy '03, the question was answered in a classroom epiphany.
KayTe was cruising along in her senior year, on a path for a career in teaching. A Feminist Majority Foundation conference in Washington, D.C., in January 2003 got her thinking.
A week or two later, she was in Elayne Clift's Women and Development course and got into a discussion with Elayne about activism.
A switch turned on. The next day KayTe met with her advisor, Jan Youga, and made the necessary course changes to redirect her life.
Upon graduation, she moved to Washington and began volunteering at feminist nonprofits and worked with the Girl Scouts as a field director to learn the ABCs of organizing and volunteer development.
After a year's hiatus teaching English in Chile, which fulfilled a desire for adventurous travel, she returned to the Girl Scouts and is now involved with their major and planned giving programs.
Last spring, KayTe articulated her political beliefs in an essay she submitted to the White House Project, a nonprofit organization that works to get a diverse and critical mass of women into leadership, up to and including the Presidency.
Her essay was published in She's Out There! Essays by 35 Young Women Who Aspire to Lead the Nation (LifeTime Media, 2009). Editor Amy Sewell said, "KayTe's essay stood out among hundreds of submissions we received because it showed how her personal experiences while living in Chile, a country with a female president, gave her a special understanding of the unique and valuable leadership capabilities women can bring to government."
At a book signing at the Keene Toadstool Bookshop last July, KayTe added that if she were president, she "would position issues of social justice and equality at the center of all discussions, from taxes to education to international trade."
KayTe spent her early childhood in the Littleton area and her high school days in Milford. She belonged to the Girl Scouts wherever she lived.
Her parents provided her with solid role models for civic engagement. Mom was the faithful Girl Scout leader and supporter and Dad was active in the Knights of Columbus. Her grandmother, a lifelong teacher, was also a strong influence.
KayTe credits several of her mentors at KSC as instrumental in solidifying her beliefs and encouraging her to try experiences outside her zone of comfort. Professor Anne-Marie Mallon's American Women Writers and African-American Women Writers courses opened KayTe's eyes to women's studies and race in America.
KayTe credits Patrice Strifert, advisor to the Social Activities Council, for expanding her understanding of leadership. On one occasion, Patrice advised her to go into a meeting and let the members of the team do the talking. "I realized that I didn't have to actually do the talking to be in control – that listening was just as powerful."
Will Catherine "KayTe" Hope Kennedy be the first female President of the United States? As KayTe will tell you, nothing is impossible if you work at it!