Girl Empowerment


Three pillars hold up Kate Schulze’s life: arts and dance, science and faith, and people and systems. Her experiences at Gustavus mirror this grounding. She majored in biology and minored in neuroscience and dance, while also running track, playing in the collegiate band and flute choir. “What matters most to me from those three pillars,” she says, “is encouraging and empowering people.” Today she is a full-time graduate student in international public health, volunteers with the Global Scholars on campus, and has been trained as an Ambassador of Hope through Shared Hope International, an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking.

Kate has always been curious about the world, ready to walk down, across, or climb up the paths presented to her. In the summer of 2018 she gathered all of her interests into one project. “The three pillars definitely came together into my work with the Ghana Health Education Initiative (GHEI) in the rural village of Humjibre. I joined the Girl Empowerment camp where I developed curriculum and helped lead workshops for the adolescent girls on public health and life topics.” Kate drew on her dance background to approach empowerment from a physically creative standpoint. “The camp’s goal was to encourage and support the girls to grow into confident, intelligent, strong women who think critically about the world and take ownership of their lives,” she says.

My life purpose, lifting up people who are undervalued and overlooked, stems from my time at Gustavus.

Kate strives to be a role model for that sense of ownership. Her Gustavus education helped ground her in confidence. “In the larger picture of my life, I make very intentional decisions with my future. I set goals and work through the steps I need to take to get myself there. Each step is a decision. It’s a daily process to keep choosing to work towards a goal. It’s not always easy either, and sometimes it can be downright scary,” she says. “I’ve had to take some big leaps to keep going.”

It’s with this incremental goal setting that she came to her meaningful work in Africa. “Every intentional step led to another. Choosing Gustavus led me to a J-Term my junior year in India and Nepal, which opened me up to global health. Moving to Baltimore for an internship at the NIH, and later returning as a full-time research fellow after graduation, led me to public health as a career. Choosing to move to New Orleans and attend Tulane for my Master of Public Health led me to Africa. Each leap forward definitely took me outside my comfort zone, and along the way I learned it takes courage to follow through, that it’s okay to be scared. Living courageously doesn’t mean not being scared, it means doing the right thing anyway.”

Kate found her voice and her light at Gustavus. “It’s where I learned to speak up about what I care about,” she says. “My life purpose, lifting up people undervalued and overlooked, stems from my time at Gustavus.”

“What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness could not put it out.”

John 1:4-5