In the first few months when I started The Niche Movement in January 2013, I had a growing number of supporters and advocates that initiated some early outreach. One advocate that really stands out and still supports my vision to this day is Katie Bean. I met Katie in 2006-07 when I started visiting Courtney in graduate school at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. They were both in the same student affairs program and became really close friends.
Upon earning her masters degree, Katie moved to Washington, DC in 2008 where she worked as the Assistant Director of Alcohol and Drug Education for three years. Katie is one of those people who has huge heart and believes in what she does in her job. She has a vision where every college student is properly educated and supported to make healthy lifestyle choices thus leading to a healthier and safer campus.
In 2011, Katie found a new opportunity and moved back to her hometown of Philadelphia where she took a job as the Assistant Director of Student Outreach at St. Joseph's University. In this role, she provides wellness, alcohol, and drug education, support, and programming. Part of her job at St. Joe’s is to lead a group of peer educators that are advocates for responsible lifestyles and link the campus to her office. Katie’s leadership philosophy, both with her programming and advising her students, is to empower people to make choices that benefit them. I love her leadership style because anyone that works with college students knows you can’t force a college student to do something, but you can educate and guide them to make healthy choices that lead to a happier life.
Katie was someone that didn’t just talk about change, she created it. That’s why her mantra is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The emphasis is on ‘be’ because she is an action oriented person. I didn’t realized it at the time, but I learned that this trait would benefit the Niche Movement tremendously. After telling her about my ideas it was only a matter of time before I saw something different than many of my other conversations with supporters...I saw her take action.
When I launched The Niche Movement’s first online cohort for college students to help them find their niche, Katie Bean was one of the first colleagues to share it with her network. Not only did she promote it, but she encouraged a few of her peer educators that were juniors and seniors who were looking for some direction upon graduation to apply to this program. I can’t thank her enough for her belief in one of my first initiatives. Because of Katie’s support, four students from St. Joe’s were accepted into The Niche Movement’s program. One of her students, Nikki Uy, has an incredible story that I will share later this week.
You will have friends along the way that will listen to your ideas, share their support with you and those all great people to have around you. However, activators like Katie are game changers. She took the conversation a step further by sharing it with her students and supporting their involvement in the cohort. That kind of action-oriented support is invaluable.
Just like many of the people I have talked about, Katie has been there for Courtney and I. She played an amazing role as one of Courtney’s bridesmaids, she has helped us connect with several other colleagues in the field, and has always been there to offer positive life advice. It is great to see her genuine personality shine through in both her professional and personal world.
What They Taught Me:
Everytime I talk to Katie she shares amazing stories of how she empowered one of her students or helped a struggling student on campus better themselves. She has taught me to never give up on a student and to find an outlet where they can be empowered.
How They Inspired Me:
Having Katie as one of the first advocates of The Niche Movement has really met a lot to me and establish a name for my passion project outside of New Jersey. Her encouragement and belief, along with many others, helps me recognize that I bring value to this subject of post-graduate life.
When you are finding your niche, there will be those that are cheerleaders and those that will be activators. The activators go beyond the cheers of support and they take action in ways that will amplify your message and help you reach your goals. Katie was an activator for me. I have lots of cheerleaders, but it is the activators that continue to help make this ‘dream’ a reality. Be an activator for someone else. There are many times throughout my story where I have done that for others, and I believe that is why I have been fortunate enough to see that kindness and dedication come back to me. If you have activators around you, thank them. They are critical to your success.