The Iowa Challenge defines "engage" as follows: "You will be a more successful student and enjoy yourself more if you spend your time and energy on activities that matter. The University of Iowa offers almost limitless opportunities and the resources to help you become a leader in and out of the classroom. Take advantage of them."
When Katie Rasmuson entered the University of Iowa as a freshman, she was less than thrilled. As the end of first semester rolled around, she was considering transferring schools. Then, one weekend CAB (campus activities board) movie changed her perspective.
“Going to that one movie, that was the moment that I realized that I have really great friends here, and I don’t want to leave this place,” she says. “I realized I should probably get more involved, that would make it more enjoyable.”
Katie had experience planning events in high school, so she figured CAB could be a student organization she’d like to get involved in. At the beginning of her sophomore year, she applied to be a part of CAB. Since then, her experience at Iowa has become exciting and unforgettable, allowing her to branch out and make new friends.
“After that interview, I was so excited. I could just tell that I really vibed with these people. It was great from the start. And I love that CAB is an alcohol alternative event planning organization. Being a part of a group that had shared values was important to me.”
During that year, she was encouraged to apply for the executive board by some of her friends in the organization. She says she was nervous and unsure, since it was only her first year in CAB. She didn’t know if she was ready for a leadership position, but her friends were so convincing that she applied anyways.
“It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have met so many amazing people. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow so much, and started to understand how important it is to have alcohol alternative events on campus. And getting to plan them is just awesome.”
Currently, Katie serves as CAB’s nighthawks director, where she plans many of their late night events around campus. Some of the most memorable events she has planned include CAB’s annual haunted house, carnival, mardi gras night, and casino night. This spring she will serve as CAB’s executive director, a position she was encouraged to apply for by her peers.
“Having that position is going to give me a whole new platform to get further engaged and involved in campus.”
One of the biggest parts of Katie’s experience in CAB has been meeting her friend and fellow CAB executive Ruth Kahssai, Vice President of Member Relations. Ruth helped establish an inclusion task force within CAB to help the organization be more inclusive, which is one of CAB’s top values. Katie says Ruth helped her grow both personally and professionally.
“Ruth has such a unique perspective on her identities and how she fits into this world,” she says. “I’ve been able to learn from her so much. I’ve been able to appreciate my identities and accept and grow in who I am because of my relationship with her. She’s really awesome and I’m really glad I met her. Some of the greatest outcomes I’ve had from this is my personal growth and my appreciation for different cultures. Part of that growth came from conversations I’ve had with Ruth.”
Katie is a part of the ImmUNITY campaign, a student organization that raises awareness for vaccine-preventable diseases at home and around the world. She is also involved in MEDICUS, the undergraduate health organization.
If she were to give one piece of advice to first-year students coming into Iowa, it would be to find something you’re passionate about to get involved in. Becoming engaged and finding your community is extremely important in finding your place and your people on campus. It helps you branch out and find your purpose, and helps you find out what you want to do in life.
About the series: the Iowa Challenge is a mission statement for UI students that involves 5 main goals: excel, stretch, engage, choose, and serve. These 5 things are what the UI expects from students, and what students should strive to do for themselves. This series profiles 5 students who exemplify what it means to take part in the Iowa Challenge.