Katy Baudendistel SAS’16 Excels in Academics and Leadership at CNR

May 23, 2016
Katy Baudendistel SAS'16

A glimmer of tears shone in the eyes of Katy Baudendistel SAS’16 during a recent awards luncheon for graduating seniors. And no wonder. As she stood before applauding professors and peers to receive the Barbara F. McManus Award in Women’s Studies, Baudendistel was experiencing a culminating moment in her undergraduate years at The College of New Rochelle—years she calls “life-changing.”

The psychology and women’s studies major and Honors student has made the most of her time at CNR. As a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, she has worked closely with Dr. Rebecca Lafleur, associate professor of psychology and director of women’s studies. “The offer of a research assistantship confirmed my decision to attend CNR,” she recalled. “No other college offered that opportunity. It’s so rare in undergraduate education.”

An outcome of her work with Lafleur has been the opportunity to present at conferences. She presented “Fat Talking Feminists? The Relationship between Race, Feminist Ideology, Conformity to Feminine Norms, and Negative Body Talk”, at both the  2013 New England Psychological Conference and the 2014 Association of Women in Psychology (AWP) Conference in Columbus, Ohio. In 2016, she presented the paper “Perceptions of Women Who Engage in Negative Body Talk (and the Friends Who Challenge Them)” along with Lafleur at the AWP Conference in Pittsburgh.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with Katy as part of the faculty-student research scholarship program,” said Lafleur. “She is an intelligent, mature, and passionate young woman. From day one, she immersed herself in our project and took on responsibilities well beyond the typical first year. It's been wonderful to get to work with her so closely and see her interests and ideas develop during her time at CNR.”

Beyond the classroom, Baudendistel has served her peers and the larger community in a number of roles, including as a tutor in the Writing Center, a student ambassador through the admissions office, a resident assistant in the Honors Living and Learning Community, as class president for three years running, and as a campus leader for NR Future, New Rochelle’s Downtown development and revitalization effort. In her work with NR Future, she represented CNR in an initiative begun by Michelle Goyke SAS’16 to deepen connections between New Rochelle’s three colleges. “We’ve worked with Iona and Monroe on programs that bring our students together,” she said. “Recently we held a mixer at NoMa Social in the Radisson for students that was very well-attended.”

Through the Russel Taylor Study Abroad Scholarship, Baudendistel spent a semester her junior year studying abroad in South Africa –a decision inspired by her encounter with high school students from St. Ursula’s School in Johannesburg who visited CNR her sophomore year.

“I took courses like Afrikaans for Beginners and Transitional Justice in Africa at Stellenbosch University outside Cape Town, along with 21 students from universities across the US,” she said. “On weekends we visited sites like Robben Island and Table Mountain. I also had adventures like bungee jumping, lion walks, and shark cage diving. It was the best five months of my life!”

As her time at the College draws to a close, Baudendistel credits much of her success to supportive faculty and enduring friendships. She cites Lafleur and Dr. Amy Bass, director of the Honors Program and professor of history, as mentors. “One of the best things about CNR has been the chance to work with professors and classmates who are so engaged and inspiring. I met my two best friends here in the Honors Program. I wouldn’t have had all the opportunities I’ve been given at CNR at any other school.”  In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either psychology or women’s studies.

“From the moment she first stepped into my office, Katy has been a powerful and transformative presence in Honors,” said Bass. “She has represented us at Northeast Regional Honors Council conferences, served as one of the most dynamic resident assistants that our Living and Learning Community has ever seen, and constantly pushed her goals to achieve more. She represents the Honors Program in every way — as a student, as a leader, and now as an alum.”