Inspired by a graduate fellowship experience, this alumna is on the leading edge of urban trends in her hometown.
by Donna Parker
Less than two years out of college, Catherine Gilbert is already making a mark on her hometown of St. Louis. As one of only 64 people selected nationally, she served as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs at FOCUS St. Louis, which is a graduate level experiential learning program dedicated to honing the skills of new leaders. (The name Coro is a new word with no association, but which represents discovery and exploration.)
As a Coro fellow, Catherine spent nine months in a series of month long internships, a 40-hour work week program with sector-based placements including non-profit, for-profit, labor, and electoral campaigns. Catherine says it was a big opportunity to walk through what everyone is learning and to move forward as a group with professional and personal growth.
She and the other Coro fellows accomplish this synergistic experience by coming together during group seminars and sharing their experiences. Catherine enjoyed placement with Jobs with Justice and the Missouri Department of Mental Health, among others, but it was her time spent in the Nestlé Purina headquarters on an employee-dedicated diversity initiative that sparked the most interest.
Catherine’s selection as a Coro Fellow is easy to understand, given her already impressive background as FaciliTrainer for the National Conference of Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis and as a community researcher at the University of Texas Health Science Center. She also served as an intern at the South Grand Community Improvement District, Urban Strategies and Beyond Housing.
Catherine says she loved the urban studies program at Trinity and also took several classes in the humanities, which offered her a unique perspective on different specialties among her classmates.
“The nature of the urban studies and political science programs offered me a broad look. Professor Christine Drennon was so involved in the San Antonio community and would use everyday examples in addition to bringing in adjunct professors with real-world experience.”
“Rey Saldana in urban education was so hands-on in class, and professor Tucker Gibson in poli sci had a ton of experience in every imaginable area. He had a great story to go with anything he was teaching!”
Catherine has long taken a group approach to learning. She spent junior year abroad in Cape Town, South Africa, to “experience something different,” while her friends went other places. “It was fascinating to come back and hear about everybody else’s semester. It was as though we had gone to all of those places,” recalls Catherine, enthusiastically.
Today Catherine lives in Benton Park, about a mile from Busch Stadium, not far from where she grew up, and relishes the city life that her residence offers. She bikes to the Saint Louis University campus where she works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Center for Sustainability. She also takes classes and is earning her MA in urban planning and real estate development.
On a recent bike tour through St. Louis with friends, Catherine discovered a new interest. “We happened to stop at an elevated railroad trestle similar to the High Line in New York City, which will hopefully become a connectivity trail for running and biking,” she says. “This is exactly the kind of project I’d like to work on.”
You may contact Catherine at: catherinegilbert09 [at] gmail.com