The Jesuit pledge to live as men and women for others has always been central to the mission of Saint Joseph's University. For sophomore Sociology major Kataney Couamin ‘11, this pursuit is carried out daily.
Couamin, who is originally from New York, moved to Philadelphia when she was 14. She attended Abraham Lincoln High School for two years, but soon traveled farther down the east coast and finished high school in Miami, Fla. Luckily, her next move brought her directly to Saint Joseph's University – literally. “My mom bought a house that was in the backyard of campus, and every time I passed by Saint Joe's I would always admire it,” remembers Couamin. Since Couamin planned to commute to whatever college she attended, Saint Joe's was an obvious choice. Once she was accepted, it didn't take her long to realize that her logical choice was a perfect fit. “As soon as I started orientation, I just fell in love with the spirit.”
The SJU spirit wasn't the only thing that left Couamin impressed. When she needed tuition support, the University was able to award her several merit-based scholarships, including an Achievement Award, a Mission Scholarship, and a United Scholars Grant. “I was really taken aback by how Saint Joe's was able to help me out when I needed it,” Couamin says.
Couamin's involvement in several campus organizations is a testament to her gratitude. Couamin is particularly active within the Office of Multicultural Life, as a member of the Caribbean Student Association and the Black Student Union. She also serves on the Executive Board of Harambee African Awareness. “It's a student organization that works toward building up an orphanage in Kenya called ‘Dagorretti 4 Kids,'” Couamin explains. “I fell in love with the passion that students have for it.” “Harambee” is Swahili for “pull together,” a theme that runs through all of Couamin's endeavors at Saint Joseph's. Last spring, Couamin was among the founding members of “Bridging the Gap,” a diversity campaign that aims to promote interaction and communication among students of different ethnic and social backgrounds. She is also active within the Diversity Recruitment Committee, as well as the Philadelphia Service Immersion Program (PSIP), a summer program that introduces incoming freshmen to the service aspect of Saint Joseph's. Couamin's positive experience with PSIP motivated her to become a service site coordinator for Bluford Elementary, where SJU students provide tutoring and recreation through after school programs.
At the other end of the spectrum, Couamin maintains ties with alumni through her involvement with Telefund. She began her fundraising efforts one year ago, and continues to be impressed by the level of alumni involvement at Saint Joseph's. “It's great to see that alumni keep such a close connection and commitment long after they have passed through here,” Couamin says. She also enjoys the added bonus of networking with alumni who share her interests, particularly her devotion to service.
Not surprisingly, Couamin plans to continue serving others long after she graduates, with one clear goal in mind. “I want to be a JV,” Couamin says, referring to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. “I heard about JVC when I was on Urban Challenge. It's one year of service, and you volunteer within the country or internationally, wherever the need is greatest. When I heard about it, that was an ‘a ha' moment for what I want to do with my life. It made so much sense.”
Though she certainly displays her school spirit on campus, Couamin says her Hawk pride is strongest outside of SJU's borders. “I feel the most pride for my school when I get to talk about it to others,” Couamin says. “I still get excited when I'm on the highway and I see the sign for ‘Saint Joseph's University, exit 339.'” Couamin credits the SJU community for making her feel so at home. “This is where I'm supposed to be.” Couamin says. “I'm always able to do what I love here, and I have a great support system of administration, faculty, and friends. Every time I turn a corner here, there's somebody I can say ‘hi' to.”
No stranger to life's twists and turns, Couamin is uncertain what lies ahead after graduation. “It's hard to plan because you never know what life's going to throw at you, but God has a way of making things work out,” she says. If the present is any indication, Couamin is sure to be a shining example of Jesuit values and Hawk pride no matter what her future holds.