In Their Words: Katie Sweeney

Katie Sweeney is the 2016 recipient of the Gabriel Zimmerman Memorial Scholarship.

Department: Community Studies

What Scholarship did you receive? Gabriel Zimmerman Award

What year are you? 4th year

College: Cowell College

Where do you call home? Burlingame, CA

With all of the choices for college, what made UC Santa Cruz stand out?
As soon as I toured the UC Santa Cruz campus my senior year of high school, it stood out to me in a few different ways. The breathtaking campus combined with a lively student presence immediately drew me in. I've always been a summer camp gal and believe me when I say it is entirely suiting to refer to UCSC as UC Summer Camp. It was the perfect fit for me.

What is your field of focus?
I will be graduating with a B.A. in community studies and field-study focus in legal advocacy. My academics have revolved around social justice work and community-building.

What do you hope to do once you graduate from UC Santa Cruz?
I hope to attend law school with a focus on labor, immigration, or non-profits. I will be preparing law school applications this summer and taking the LSAT in October.  I am also applying for the Peace Corps and a few non-profit positions in the bay area as well for the immediate future.  I'm keeping my options open, knowing that law school is the ultimate goal.

What is one memorable moment that stands out for you as a student here?
During April of my freshman year, I received an email from Livestrong confirming I had secured a $10,000 grant to start our very own Camp Kesem chapter here at UCSC. Camp Kesem is a free week-long summer camp  run and fundraised for entirely by college students for children with a parent who has or has had cancer. I attended Stanford’s Camp Kesem during my mother’s battle with ovarian cancer and dreamed of one day starting my own chapter as a young camper. I was overwhelmed with excitement and gratification when I opened the email confirming we won the grant. I ran through the halls shouting the news with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. I knew  this moment would change the trajectory of my life. I have now served as Director for Camp Kesem at UC Santa Cruz the past three years and I truly cannot imagine a more rewarding way to have spent my college career. We've raised over $180,000 over the past three years, grown to about 50 dedicated UCSC student volunteers, and are now serving over 80 children coping with a parent's cancer in and near the Santa Cruz County.

How will this scholarship impact your academic life /research?

This scholarship will assist me in my preparation for law school and a life of public service in a number of ways. I will be able to purchase study materials for the LSAT, enroll in an LSAT preparation course, and pay registration fees for multiple law school applications. Additionally, I can direct this scholarship towards supplemental texts on my perspective focuses to better prepare myself for both law school and a career in public service. Knowing I have been selected for this honor motivates me to remain driven and persistent towards pursuing a career in legal advocacy and public service.