Going off to college for the first time is a big transition for anyone; moving out of the parents and into a dorm with a complete stranger, and having to learn a lot of life skills very quickly forces one to become an adult over the course of year, not to mention striving to achieve academic excellence. The stress can be overwhelming, and in times of need young adults need a support group to encourage them to do well and feel confident in their abilities and future. For me and my peers from Kid City that go to CSUN, that support group originated and is led by the wonderfully talented Katie Kevorkian.
Katie started out as a summer program coordinator for Kid City. Her success with the program led to internships and an excellent performance leading an interfaith exploration at the Sunday School program held at First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles. Katie received her Master of Arts in Religious Education from Claremont School of Theology and since then has received an award for outstanding lifelong commitment for Youth Ministry. Using these skills, Katie introduced the ideas of interfaith and inter-religious dialogue to a slowly growing group of teens in downtown LA. She educated young adults at Kid City by concentrating on topics like interfaith engagement, theology after destruction, and Youth and Young Adult faith formation. From there, Katie went on to work with Imagine no Malaria (a United Methodist campaign to end malaria in sub-saharan Africa) and Interfaith Youth Leadership Institute. Katie made it possible for Kid City students to participate in both projects, and mentored them through with encouragement and support.
While at Northridge United Methodist Church, Katie dedicated time each week to oversee a ragtag support group for the students at CSUN, which she continued even when her job moved out of the area. The response was overwhelming; this was exactly what we needed as we stumbled through our first year of college. It quickly became a safe haven for me and eight to ten others, a place for all of us to share the weight of our problems -- our struggles with homework, making friends, and the never-ending worries of how to pay for “X” by “Y” date. Through conversation and friendship, Katie turned any environment into a safe space space where we felt befriended. She encouraged us to share our woes and accomplishments, which alleviated some of the stress of the craziness of college. I recall thinking of each dinner as a “marker” of how well we were doing and how life was, and it was amazing to see everybody’s lives progress in interesting ways, as we took on the obstacles college threw at us. Kid City, through a grant from First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles, provided funds for meals, and sometimes it was our only proper meal of the day. We would arrive after studying or club meetings, and try to color in the blank page that freshman year is for most.
Katie is both my mentor and my friend; our conversations range from school to how to ask a girl out. I always feel like Katie can give me advice on any problem I have with school or as a growing college student. One memory stands out in particular; I undertook some misfortune related to my living situation, and at the time I felt an unusual pang of panic. The first person I called was actually Katie, and before the night was over we were figuring out solutions and my fears slowly diminished. We found an apartment by weeks end. It speaks wonders of just how much impact a support group can have.
Katie Kevorkian isn’t just a mentor or an accomplished religious scholar; She is a role model, proof that to truly grow and be an adult in this fluid harsh world that it takes more than academics. It also takes more than just feeding hungry teenagers at the drop of a hat although that’s important to. It takes being willing to be a true friend, and that is not always something easy to find.
Note: Pictured with Katie, from left to right: Hristock Gutierrez, Kobi Essilfie, Kwesi Essilfie, Nosa Kenny Timon.