Alumnae Spotlight: Katie Athis ’11

By Jeanette Handelsman ’64, Alumnae Relations Coordinator 

And it started at OLP…..

When Katie Athis ’11 was a sophomore at OLP when she attended a conference at St. Catherine’s College in Minnesota with Mr. Kirschbaum, Ms. Knapp and fellow student, Katherine Bacino ’10. At the conference students engaged in important conversations regarding various social justice topics. From the conversations and presentations at this conference came the idea to create a new position on the Executive Student Council (now known as the Council of 10), the Commissioner of Social Justice. Katherine Bacino was the first person to hold this position and together with Katie, they established a social justice presence within the ASB programming, assemblies, speakers and fundraisers in the following years. They both had identified a life passion for social justice causes.

Katie has continued to pursue her passion since she graduated. She attended Seattle University and graduated with honors with a major in International Studies and Political Science. While at Seattle University she visited Nicaragua where she evaluated the sustainability of various NGOs the grassroot changes led by community members in the region. She also volunteered and did advocacy work in the local Seattle community and facilitated conversations among students regarding privilege, oppression, institutionalized racism and gentrification.

Upon graduation, Katie joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and worked with young adults experiencing homelessness in Nashville, Tennessee. Since then she has been working back in Seattle at a temporary residential program for 18-24 year olds experiencing homelessness focusing on safety planning, mental health barriers, substance abuse recovery, employment and education and ultimately permanent housing.

Katie was awarded a full-ride scholarship to attend Loyola University Chicago to obtain a Masters of Social Work. She will begin her studies in late August and will intern for three years with Catholic Charities, concentrating on work with high school students. She hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and continue her work with vulnerable young people in therapeutic settings. In her own words, Katie shares: “ Young people are more likely to succeed and be generally healthy with at least one caring adult in their lives…..I was so fortunate to have teachers at OLP who taught me lessons and modeled adult life so that was able to be successful. I hope to be that for the young people I work with.”

And so her work with the dear neighbor continues. You truly are a daughter of St. Joseph!