The Business of Helping Others
(Olsen with her mother, Karen, in 2012, at the Edgewood College Honors Convocation)
Katri Olsen ’13 would not have predicted where she finds herself today.
“I was apprehensive because I’ve never worked with kids, and never desired to,” she says. “I had never been interested in education or ‘the classroom.’”
Despite that sentiment, Katri is working with kids, and it is important work. She’s spending a year as a Dominican Volunteer, working at Sarah’s Inn in Oak Park, Illinois. The social services agency gives families affected by domestic violence a place to go for support, safety, and healing. Katri works with young teens. They spend their time together navigating issues around internet safety, and dating violence.
The New Berlin, Wis. native has taken an interesting path so far, one she freely admits has had some bumps. “Since sophomore year I always had the feeling that I should drop out of school because I wanted to help people – like I should be in the Peace Corps, helping people,” she says. “Obviously I stayed because I recognized that I cannot help others if I don’t have the knowledge and the resources that requires.”
She also admits to some second-guessing, even as she was taking the assignment at Sarah’s Inn. “I knew domestic violence is a problem, but I was never really interested in it. And I’m a Business major. How on earth can I work in a position that is usually staffed with people in social work, or Child Life, or Psychology?”
That’s a fair question. The answer comes from Katri’s experience of taking the necessary steps to be ready for whatever comes next.
“This education allows you to work with people in different settings, which allows you to connect with people on different levels and see other points of view. I don’t know who I got this from in particular; but I feel like it came from Edgewood College. Even though I was a Business student I learned that being at a liberal arts institution was powerful, because if you really try you can learn whatever you want.”