(Above: Katie Brown (front row, fourth from the left), posing with fellow camp counselor Andrew Degenhart and their high-school campers. (Photo by Heather Hall.)
Katie Brown is not an average student. She’s not even a good student. She is the student every professor wants in his or her classroom. But, she will quickly give all that credit to the mentors who surround her, like College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences professors Tod Clapp and Mark Brown. That is just who Brown is.
A self-described “born-and-bred” mountain girl from Conifer, Colo., Brown is beginning her final year at CSU and absolutely loves the human brain and anatomy, which fuels her passion for teaching others about it through tutoring or presentations to local youth.
While meeting with Clapp about how to become more involved, he suggested she apply to become a CSU Anatomy Camp counselor this summer.
The Anatomy Camp at CSU is a hands-on science camp for high school students across the country interested in going into pre-med majors in college. It also includes traditional camp activities, like white-water rafting and hiking. However, instead of sleeping in tents or cabins, the campers sleep in CSU residence halls.
If it sounds like fun, that is because it is, which means the 10 open spots for camp counselors is competitive. “I had to go through the application process and write essays, then go through an interview process, which I was a little apprehensive about because it was pretty competitive, but I was more excited than anything,” Brown said.
One week after her interview, she received an email from Heather Hall, graduate education coordinator, telling Brown she was selected as a camp counselor. “I responded immediately about how excited I was,” Brown said.
Brown underwent an eight-week course at the beginning of the summer to learn how to introduce high school students to anatomy, and develop a one-hour lesson plan on the head and neck with her fellow counselor Andrew Degenhart. “It was especially challenging to simplify the information about the human brain into one hour at a high school level,” said Brown, “but it was a cool challenge and I really loved it.”
Throughout the week, Brown and her campers worked with real anatomical specimens, dissected animal specimens, hiked Horsetooth Falls, learned suture techniques and how to measure blood pressure, and honed their leadership and critical thinking skills.
“When I was going into the camp, I wanted the students to take away more than anatomical knowledge,” Brown said. “I wanted them to learn how to think, and think critically, and how to approach problems starting with the big picture.”
“They were so surprised at what they had remembered and how much they learned at the end of the week,” Brown said. “For them, it was a crash course in anatomy. For me, it was a crash course in teaching, and I will carry those skills with me.”
It is apparent after talking to Brown for five minutes that teaching runs through her veins. “Katie’s passion for anatomy and anatomy education is palpable,” said Sarah Maddox, Brown’s academic advisor. “She is so excited about the human body and fascinated by each new thing she learns. She loves sharing that knowledge with others.”
Brown is spending the rest of her summer shadowing physicians, working in a research lab, serving as the editor in chief for the Journal of Undergraduate Research, and studying for the MCAT, which she will undoubtedly pass.
As for what she wants to do after medical school — practice versus teaching — Brown says, “Teaching anatomy has become an integral part of who I am, so it will no doubt be a part of my future. I might practice medicine, too. I believe it’s okay not to have all the answers right now, though. I just can’t wait to see where life takes me.”