Katherine Sheldon ‘19
Hometown: Clark, NJ
Pharmacy Major Finds Purpose in Service
Helping others has shaped Katherine Sheldon’s life. At St. John the Apostle Church, in Clark, NJ, she and her family regularly took part in the parish’s service activities. Katherine continued to volunteer throughout her years at Union Catholic Regional High School.
When it came time to choose a college, St. John’s University—and its Catholic and Vincentian Mission—spoke to Katherine in a way that other institutions did not.
“Service is important to me,” the Pharmacy major said. “I chose St. John’s because I saw opportunities here to grow as a person, in my faith, and in my ability to impact the lives of others. The fact that one of the key pillars of St. John’s is service was very attractive.”
Katherine researched the work of St. Vincent de Paul and what it meant to be Vincentian. “The mission really went to the core of who I am,” she observed. Even before her first class at St. John’s, Katherine participated in the University’s Rendu Service Experience, in which students volunteer at soup kitchens and food pantries, as well as work to prepare local schools for the start of the academic year.
“It was amazing to be with a group of students who, before they even started college, wanted to connect with others who were passionate about service,” she noted. “I was grateful to encounter them so early in my college career.”
Katherine was accepted into the Catholic Scholars Program at St. John’s. She became a lector at student Masses and began participating regularly in the Midnight Run Program, which allows students to directly serve New York City’s homeless population. From there, she joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society, where she is now an Executive Board member, and Habitat for Humanity.
In addition, Katherine has participated in service “plunges” in Denver and Panama, where she learned more about advocacy for the homeless and ways to work on their behalf at the local and national levels.
Strong organizational and time management skills allow Katherine to excel at her studies while maintaining a busy schedule. “I think I’m saying yes to all the right things,” she said, “the ones that make me happy and allow me to have the fullest experience at St. John’s.”
The summer after her freshman year, Katherine felt compelled to serve in Africa. After contacting the International Volunteer Headquarters, she spent a week in Tanzania, where she taught English to children in a local orphanage. The experience was so positive she returned for three weeks this past summer. “A piece of my heart is definitely there,” she said.
As for the future, Katherine hopes to participate in Doctors without Borders and to complete her sixth-year pharmacy rotation in an underprivileged country. “Pharmacists often have a great bond with people in the community,” she said, “and that’s something I love.”