FAU Graduate Fueled by Her Passion for Leadership
Just one year ago, Kathryn Edmunds stood on the stage of Florida Atlantic University’s Carol and Barry Kaye Auditorium to address graduating students as their Student Government (SG) president. On Thursday, Dec. 15 at 9 a.m., Edmunds, 22, was on the same stage yet again, but this time as a graduate herself. Edmunds received a bachelor’s degree in communications from the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters.
Born in Macon, Georgia, Edmunds moved to South Florida with her family as a teenager and often attended FAU football games with family friends. She fell in love with the campus, and when it came time to decide on which college to attend, the opportunities for student involvement at FAU completely sold her.
“I knew from the beginning I wanted to be involved. A few days after classes began, I went to all the tables in the Breezeway and signed up for every student organization,” she said. “A few weeks later, I was running for house representative.”
Edmunds won the house representative seat, and soon became chair of SG’s Ways and Means Committee. The following semester she ran for governor of the Boca Raton campus and won, becoming the youngest student to ever do so. In spring 2015, Edmunds rose to the top of SG, becoming its president and a member of FAU’s Board of Trustees.
“Serving as president allowed me to meet an incredibly diverse group of students and listen to their challenges and triumphs,” she said. “I wanted to be a voice for the students.”
Edmunds said her passion for leadership was constantly encouraged by her mentor, Katie Burke, assistant dean of FAU’s Weppner Center for LEAD and Service-Learning in the Division of Student Affairs.
“Katie took me under her wing and put a healthy amount of pressure on me,” she said. “Seeing her model the way was huge.”
Burke had equal praise for Edmunds.
“Enthusiasm literally drips from Kathryn’s pores when you interact with her,” she said. “She has showcased what it means to be a strong, dependable female leader.”
This past summer, Edmunds took her leadership skills to Thailand where she interned for Humanitarian Affairs, a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose goal is to empower youth who are passionate about social change.
Edmunds was responsible for recruiting, planning, and executing the organization’s seventh annual University Scholars Leadership Symposium, a week-long conference featuring talks and lectures from humanitarian leaders from around the world. The experience was so rewarding that Edmunds will begin work for another NGO, Crossroads Foundation, in Hong Kong next month. She will be working with orphans, the elderly, refugees and disaster victims.
“I will be volunteering in shelters, handing out food and providing resources to shelters and medical clinics,” she said. “The people at Crossroads live a life of service to others, and that resonated with me.”
Following her work in Hong Kong, Edmunds will return to the U.S. to begin graduate school in Texas next fall. She plans to study agricultural leadership, education and communications while furthering her research on the motivational factors of leadership, a topic she became interested in while serving in SG.
“I never could have imagined the opportunities I would have at FAU,” she said. “I underestimated this place. It’s really a hidden treasure.”