Queens senior honored as Barnhill Civic Trailblazer

November 2, 2015

kate GQueens University of Charlotte student Kate Gatterdam is the 2015 recipient of the John H. Barnhill Civic Trailblazer Award, presented annually to one student in the state who has created innovative service projects and whose leadership inspires others to serve.

When she graduates in May, Gatterdam will take with her dynamic leadership skills, a commitment to collaboration, and a passion for improving the health and lives of children. And she’ll leave behind a path of engagement for others to travel, a path that includes successful campus-wide service programs and an active student leadership team.

Elected as a sophomore to chair the school’s first campus-wide “Up til Dawn” fundraiser benefitting the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Gatterdam worked for over a year on the campaign. She directed a team of ten student leaders who engaged more than 150 Queens volunteers.

“I’m a biochemistry major,” Gatterdam explains, “and this cause connects to health, medicine, research and service – so it was really appealing to me.”

The Up til Dawn event ultimately raised $26,000 for childhood cancer research, making Queens the leading St. Jude fundraising school in the southeast. The event and the team were also recognized by the student body with Student Life awards for “best event” and “best student organization.” Since new student leaders took over this fall, the campaign has already raised $9,000 toward its 2016 goal.

“Through Kate’s leadership St. Jude Up til Dawn has become part of the Queens University life-blood,” says St. Jude representative Amy McKinney. “Throughout my career I have had the pleasure of working with hundreds of students. While every person is special, Kate is certainly a stand-out.”

Gatterdam also helped expand the school’s annual “Sleep for a Cause” event which raises awareness of homelessness and collects food donations for local shelters. The 2014 event brought in 5,000 pounds of food, nearly doubling the prior year’s total.

A Dowd Presidential Scholar and member of the Student Alumni Council, Gatterdam got her start in service at Queens as a student-athlete, volunteering with her lacrosse teammates at nearby Sedgefield Elementary. The experience working in the media center of the Title I school led her to become more involved with the Center for Active Citizenship, a relatively new campus unit that supported the award-winning partnership.

Gatterdam later became a two-term chair of the Center’s student advisory board. She believes the group should act as “stewards of service on our campus,” so she doubled board membership and encouraged regular participation in the group’s Saturday service workdays.

The Bexley, Ohio native credits her mother – “a fourth-generation Rotarian” – with instilling an ethic of service. As a child she took part in Rotary service events throughout her hometown.

While her post-grad plans include a research year and, hopefully, graduate school in pharmacology, Gatterdam says she will keep her focus on helping others.

“I want to be involved with making medicine more affordable and accessible to those who can’t afford it.”

Created in 2011, the Barnhill Award is named for John H. Barnhill, who founded innovative service programs while a student at Elon University and who later became the founding executive director of North Carolina Campus Compact. Gatterdam is the sixth student to receive the award.

Gatterdam will be honored at the Compact’s annual CSNAP student conference, held this year on November 7 at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. The event will convene nearly 100 students and staff from more than 20 campuses in the network.  In addition to awards and networking opportunities, the conference will include training on cultural competency, community engagement, and the “sustained dialogue” leadership process.

North Carolina Campus Compact, the state affiliate of the national Campus Compact organization, builds the capacity of colleges and universities to produce civically-engaged graduates and strengthen communities. Started in 2002 and hosted by Elon University, the statewide network includes 36 public, private, and community colleges and universities. Queens University of Charlotte has been part of the network since 2009.