Plaid Works

Katherine Vaillancourt: Cultivating a Culture of Service

Recent graduate Katherine Vaillancourt participated in numerous activities that demonstrated a passion for working with underserved populations with an emphasis on empowering others.

<em>Attendees of the 2016 history department honors luncheon. Katherine Vaillancourt is in the front row, second from the right.</em>Attendees of the 2016 history department honors luncheon. Katherine Vaillancourt is in the front row, second from the right.

From volunteering in a hospital maternity ward in the African nation of Malawi to serving on community advisory boards in mid-Michigan’s Gratiot County, Katherine Vaillancourt is an exemplary model of Alma College’s commitment to community service.

Katherine, a 2016 Alma graduate, assumed many campus leadership roles as a student. She served two years as co-chair of Alternative Breaks, traveling twice to the U.S.-Meixcan border to experience firsthand migrant-rights issues, and four years on the Service Learning Team.

In the Alma community, she was a member of the Gratiot Family Practice Patient Advisory Board and the Pine River Community Action Group/Public Health Task Force. In addition, she served as a research assistant with a team from Emory University, in which she participated in data collection for the Michigan PBB Registry project

<em>Katherine Vaillancourt addresses her classmates at the 2016 commencement ceremony.</em>Katherine Vaillancourt addresses her classmates at the 2016 commencement ceremony.A Positive Role Model

“With an interest in medicine and public health, Katherine always believed that health care and social justice are inseparable,” says Anne Ritz, former director of service learning at Alma. “She took on many projects during her four years at Alma College that confirmed this for her. She was a positive role model, always encouraging her Alma College peers to follow their passion.”

Additional health-focused volunteer work included certifications in Red Cross CPR, lifeguarding, neonatal resuscitation through the American Academy of Pediatrics, and being a trained birthing assistant for home births.

Katherine, who majored in history with plans to attend medical school, also took her passion for service internationally. A three-time Posey Global Fellowship recipient, she spent her summers and portions of academic terms in India, Brazil and Malawi, which allowed her to coach Model United Nations teams, teach in classrooms and volunteer in maternity and women’s health clinics.

On campus, she also was a member of the Public Affairs Institute and the Phi Alpha Theta history sorority.

Her commitment to service was recognized statewide when Michigan Campus Compact honored her with a Commitment to Service award. Also receiving the award was Danielle Harm.

In addition, Katherine was the 2016 recipient of the Barlow Trophy, Alma College’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior.


Story published on July 25, 2016