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It Took a Village

October 25, 2017
A stint in rural Central America, helping remote residents live healthier, made this alumna’s career path clear.

Katie Juromski Kennedy ’08 says she never thought she’d be a doctor. Her Cater Society fellowship was a revelation. “I owe my career to SJF and WAC,” she says. “I was accepted into a fantastic M.D. program, I’ve completed a pediatrics residency, and I’m now an allergy and immunology fellow at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, thanks to the Cater Society.”

It began, she says, in Central America. “My first global health trip—from which I decided to go into medicine—was entirely made possible by the Cater Society. I spent two weeks in Belize during my junior year doing basic public health work in rural Mayan villages. I have since worked in pediatric public health in the Himalayas and on several trips to the northern coast of Haiti.”

Attending the health of villagers confined by dangerous roads and weather gave Kennedy new perspective. “Our role was to teach about things like smoke inhalation injuries from cooking inside, sun protection, clean water, latrine building. We did basic triage, blood pressure measurements. It confirmed for me this was something I wanted to do. But these programs are very expensive. You’re paying for the experience, but also for safe food and water, safe lodging, transportation. I wouldn’t have been able to go without the Cater funding.”

Kennedy also used a Cater grant for an internship at the U.S. Naval Research Center, using x-ray technology to identify chemical compounds in explosives. She published a related paper and presented at the American Chemical Society’s 2008 national conference in New Orleans. The Cater Society funded her travel expenses.

As president of the society for a time, Kennedy acquired additional skills that serve her to this day. “My leadership role with Cater helped create confidence, the ability to talk to lots of people,” she says. “I gained experience reading and writing grants.”

Asked to articulate the value of these opportunities, Kennedy is effusive. “The Cater Society would fund any kind of academic pursuit you could think of, which in the end shaped our futures, our careers, a lot of who we became. To make that much of an impact on a young adult life is a substantial thing. My parents didn’t go to college, no one’s a doctor in my family. So as a first-generation college grad, to get this far means a lot to me, and to my family, too.”

Last modified on Feb. 8th, 2018 at 1:10pm by Marcia Landskroener.