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The college experience could aptly be described as a quest, with a diploma as the destination. Student speaker Katherine Grasberger, who addressed fellow College of Science graduates at Eastern Kentucky University on Dec. 15, suggests that graduates of EKU receive something even greater than a piece of paper: “Whatever difficulties we have faced, these conquered challenges are our lifetime guarantee.”

The Mechanicsville, Virginia, native is no stranger to obstacles. She entered EKU to continue her cross-country and track career. However, her momentum was impeded when she was diagnosed with compartment syndrome and anemia. Ultimately, that setback did not prevail: “Instead of dwelling on what was out of my control, I chose to channel my energy into academics while I continued to run. When I started looking for opportunities, I was amazed at how many I could find, just by putting myself out there.”

That approach paid off for Grasberger as she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry, and a concentration in pre-pathology assistant, with a perfect 4.0 GPA. During her time at EKU she has earned the Bronze President’s Service Award, Making the Difference Award, Colonel Leadership Certificate, I AM EKU Certificate in 2016 and 2017 and the OVC Medal of Honor in 2015, 2016 and 2017. She was named Top Sophomore in Chemistry her sophomore year, and Top Biochemistry Student in 2017.

In addition to her studies, Grasberger competed with the EKU cross country team, which placed 23rd in the Division I National Championship in 2017. She also competed in indoor and outdoor track and field and served as a first-year leader, student academic success team tutor and a student academic success team manager.

Grasberger embraced the opportunities available to her as an EKU student, even among personal difficulties, to achieve her lifetime guarantee. “When I began to have an open mind to trying new things, suddenly I noticed even more opportunities around me,” she shared. “Instead of waiting for opportunities, I began to create opportunities for myself.”

Since graduation, Grasberger has relocated to Arhus, Denmark, where she is learning Danish, and working with a Danish track club to promote healthy lifestyles to middle and high school children. She hopes to pass the Danish language proficiency test in the fall and begin physical therapy school.

“When obstacles present themselves in the future, you will be able to draw on the lessons of these years at EKU to carry you through,” Grasberger concluded. “Despite all of the things standing in your way, you’re ready to go from a college student to a college graduate. Later on, when things get tough, think back to all those choices you’ve made and challenges that you have overcome to get here today; these are your lifetime guarantee.”

– by Madison Harris, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management