Kate Lindgren is a third-generation Bulldog, but she wasn’t always sure this would be her path.
“I ended up deciding to come to Georgia on April 28, which was two days before the decision deadline,” said Lindgren, who is set to graduate this May. “For a long time, I was trying to be stubborn and didn’t want to do what my brother and sister wanted to do. But in the end, I couldn’t deny that UGA was the place that felt most like home.”
She has loved every second of her experience at UGA and found several ways to build her campus community. But Lindgren also acknowledges there were challenges over the last four years.
A focus on mental health
Lindgren’s college experience started in fall 2019, and things quickly pivoted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the second semester of her freshman year, courses moved online.
“I felt so lonely, and it was so difficult,” Lindgren said. “But when I look back, I learned so much about myself and grew so much in that time. I learned to take care of myself in terms of education and my mental and physical well-being.”
During her freshman and sophomore years, Lindgren struggled with anxiety and coped by finding resources and facing what scared her.
“I thought if I understood this anxiety better, I would not be as afraid. I really dove into that and tried to find ways that I could help myself but also help my friends and peers,” she said.
This included both on-campus and off-campus resources. She took an internship with the Jed Foundation, a national nonprofit that provides resources to support high school and college students. The University System of Georgia had just implemented a new mental health initiative and UGA became a JED campus, and Lindgren helped rally students around campus resources such as Student Care and Outreach.
“Kate just said yes to everything I asked her to do,” said Carrie Smith, UGA director of student care and outreach. “She really helped me assemble this slow cultural movement to help students understand that the university really cares.”
Lindgren also helped identify opportunities to grow existing programs. This included UGA Body Talks, a Student Care and Outreach initiative that promotes healthy body image and self-esteem through peer-to-peer dialogues. After the program was established, Smith said candid conversations with Lindgren helped clarify student perspectives and strengthen that resource.
And when others saw Lindgren’s involvement with Student Care and Outreach, they encouraged her to pursue a role with the Student Government Association, where she now serves as student body treasurer.
“A big thing I was passionate about was student well-being and mental health, and once I got into my SGA role, I was able to figure out that there is a lot UGA is actively doing,” she said. “We’ve been able to really promote those resources that already exist, including working with CAPS (Counseling and Psychiatric Services) and the UGA Health Center to find ways to reach students before they’re in a state of crisis.”
Lindgren and fellow SGA Executive Officers Obamide Samaye and Bryson Henriott have supported a more open mental health dialogue on campus, Smith said, by opening new doors to student circles and facilitating important conversations.
Cultivating opportunities, building community
As she sought new opportunities, Lindgren was also making a large campus smaller. She built her own community of support and connected to others.
She served on the Chi Omega sorority’s executive board and built friendships through SGA. She also served as a campus vaccine ambassador, represented UGA’s Franklin College of Arts and Sciences as an ambassador to prospective students and served as a member of the University Judiciary.
“Through it all, it tied back to the same goal of connecting with students, specifically those in a tough spot during their time in college, and just giving back to the community that has done so much for me,” she said.
Lindgren credits the support of others as a strong reason for her success, and she hopes to continue giving back in her career.
“There were always people who reached out and made sure I was successful,” she said. “Now that I’m about to graduate, this is bittersweet. There’s a lot of growth that came from the hard days, even though I’m sure my freshman self would probably not want to be thankful for those times.”
Lindgren will graduate with her bachelor’s in psychology as well as minors in Spanish and business. She hopes to work for a nonprofit or philanthropic organization.
And Smith hopes other students see how Lindgren embraced the projects she was passionate about in order to build her best path.
“She has silently and steadily embraced all that UGA has to offer—absolutely everything,” Smith said. “Because of that, she has been able to give back, and now that’s she’s leaving, I hope students can really see how Kate has blazed her own trail, figured out what experiences would be best for her so that her overall experience was authentic along the way.”