June 4, 2014
Katie Landgrebe (third from the left) of the Northwestern women's soccer team was one of five recipients of the inaugural Irving Kabiller Memorial Award for Excellence in Character, Commitment and Community. Established in November of 2013, the award recognizes Wildcat junior student-athletes who are model citizens in the NU athletic community that possess integrity and morality and have a "pay it forward" mentality.
VIDEO: Wildcat Professional Excellence Program
By Martina Barrera-Hernandez
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Katie Landgrebe has always known how to dream big. The Medill junior and Wildcat soccer player recently received the opportunity to see those dreams come true.
In November 2013, Landgrebe was selected as one of five student-athletes to receive the Irving Kabiller Memorial Award for Excellence in Character, Commitment and Community during the annual junior Wildcat Professional Excellence Program (WPEP). NU for Life benefactor David Kabiller provided the financial support for the award to honor his late father, Irving Kabiller, and offered $5,000 per student for use in professional development opportunities.
Coaches nominated juniors for the award according to certain criteria: being model citizens in the NU athletic community, possessing integrity and morality, and having a "pay it forward" mentality, among other things.
The nominees were then asked to write a one-page proposal of how they would further their professional development if they won the award. In her proposal, Landgrebe said she would take a trip to India to work on human trafficking issues. When Landgrebe submitted her proposal for what she would do if she won the award, even before learning of its monetary value, Landgrebe was thinking about what it could do for others.
"When I originally got the email saying that I had been nominated by my coach, it was kind of funny because they gave some examples of things you could use the money for and some of them seemed smaller, like a few hundred dollars," Landgrebe said. "In my original essay, I proposed a trip to India to work with social justice issues. When it ended up being enough for me to take two trips it was just incredible. I didn't expect that at all."
For Julie Dunn, assistant director of athletics for career enhancement and employer relations, Landgrebe was an easy choice from the nominee pool.
"She thought bigger than herself," Dunn said. "That's what we talk about a lot in this program. It's about being selfless and seeing the big picture with the Northwestern community. Whether you give back directly through Northwestern or to society in general, that selflessness is key and that was something Katie exhibited early in the application process."
Landgrebe's happiness upon learning about the award is only matched by her thankfulness.
"The generosity of Northwestern and our alumni has been incredible," Landgrebe said. "I've just felt really lucky to have the opportunities we have as student-athletes at Northwestern and to pursue things that I'm really passionate about. Not everyone gets to do that and I feel really lucky to have that opportunity."
Because of the award's generosity, Landgrebe has the opportunity to travel to India in July to work on a travel journal publication and meet with partners who are providing after care for victims of human trafficking. In addition, she was able to visit Nicaragua for five days in May to work with OneSight, a non-profit organization that provides eye care for those who have never received it.
With the OneSight clinic in Nicaragua, Landgrebe worked with the communications team, writing stories about those who received glasses and were able to see clearly for the first time in their lives, and helped with initial eye checks at the clinic. While the trip to Nicaragua helped Landgrebe develop her communications skills, she also learned invaluable lessons about sharing the common bond of humanity with different groups of people.
“I was reminded on this trip of how it’s really easy to get closed off from connecting with people,” Landgrebe said. “Being willing to listen or just spending time with them is so important and honestly that’s what we all deserve—as humans—is to listen to each other. I will definitely take that with me [to India], just remembering how long that takes and how much buy-in on my part that requires, and knowing that it’s not easy but totally worth doing.”
For Landgrebe, a journalism student with a knack for storytelling, it is not only about the stories, but about fully engaging with the people and finding a connection.
“We think all of our lives are so different, but in reality we all have this similar experience of being human. I think what I’ve seen in just the little that I’ve travelled is that there’s some really interesting intersections where you think things are so different but they actually aren’t.”
Be sure to visit NUsports.com on Thursday, June 5 for an inside look into Katie Landgrebe’s trip to Nicaragua as part of the OneSight communications team. The Medill junior chronicled her experiences with a blog and photos.
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