Kaitlyn was an opinionated, sarcastic, creative, and passionate kid. She was raised by loving, accepting, and open-minded parents who taught both her and her brother to stand up for what they believe in and help others. She always had friends but felt disconnected from her peers most of the time. Since she never felt particularly childlike, she spent most of her time hanging out with teachers, coaches, and other adults she admired. Kaitlyn has been passionate about social justice since she can remember and is constantly striving to be a better ally and advocate to oppressed and underprivileged communities.
As a Freshman, Kaitlyn dual enrolled in Eugene International High School and Churchill High School. She used her passion for social justice as co-president of Churchill’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and organized the district’s first ever LGBT-inclusive prom; known as “Pink Prom”. The dance was attended by students from all across the state and continues to grow every year. She was also one of Churchill’s two representatives on the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee that discussed district wide problems with the superintendent and his staff. She was a tutor for the District’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program that helps students who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education prepare for a successful transition to college.
Following graduation, Kaitlyn was admitted to the University of Oregon and that summer got a job working for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Education Support Program (LGBTESSP) housed in the Dean of Student’s office at the university. When she moved into the dorms, Kaitlyn started experiencing full blown panic attacks for the first time in her life. After a few days of complete anxiety, she had the worst panic attack yet and ran from the building crying. She called her parents who struggled to understand but could sense the urgency in her voice and decided it would be best if she came home.
She saw a school therapist a couple of times who was helpful but she ultimately stopped going. She moved home and felt better for a couple weeks until the panic attacks started coming back; when she went to school, to the grocery store, stood in long lines, had to walk down crowded streets, etc. The following year, as she was preparing to move out of her parent’s house and into an apartment of her own, the panic intensified and she couldn’t pretend anymore. She finally opened up to her parents, who still didn’t understand but who never showed her anything but patience, compassion and support. They encouraged her to start seeing a new therapist, told her that it was okay to leave a job that was too much for her and insisted that they loved her and were proud of her.
Kaitlyn has been seeing a wonderful therapist for almost two years and feels endlessly grateful to her family and friends who have supported her no matter what. She has developed tools to manage her anxiety and is committed to continuing on her journey of self-love and self-acceptance. She is actively pursuing a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon, majoring in Sociology and minoring in both English and Women’s and Gender Studies.
A wonderful friend introduced Kaitlyn to Youth ERA at a time when she didn’t know what to do next. After interning for Youth ERA for several months she was offered a statewide writing position and graciously accepted. Being able to call herself a writer professionally has been a dream come true. She is proud to be a part of the Youth ERA team and looks forward to the future.
In her free time, Kaitlyn enjoys spending time with her family and friends, writing, going to Duck football games, watching her favorite television shows, and taking photos.