Katherine Wyant is “a young woman who has lots of stories to tell,” according to Dr. David Coleman, director of the Honors Program at Eastern Kentucky University.
Wyant, a senior homeland security and Spanish double major from Mt. Sterling, has been described as a go-getter who seeks out opportunities and works hard to bring them to fruition. During her time at EKU, she has studied abroad in Argentina and Costa Rica, and attended a security internship program in Dayton, Ohio. She has also presented original research at several national conferences, including the National Conference on Undergraduate Research and the Kentucky Intelligence Colloquium.
While Wyant has always been ambitious, she has not always known where to focus her extraordinary work ethic. She said that since her freshman year she has become “more focused on what I want to do and who I want to be.” After earning the Founders Scholarship to EKU, she first enrolled in the political science and journalism departments as a double major. Her second semester, however, she learned about the homeland security program. “It didn’t take long for me to realize that was where I belonged and where I could accomplish my goals.”
Like homeland security, Spanish was not on Wyant’s radar as a major when she began college. Only after studying abroad did she add that as a second major. “The abroad trips really opened up my perspective on the world and how it operates,” she said. “Now that I am where I am, I’m thankful I stuck with Spanish and am grateful for the doors it is going to open for me in the future.” In fact, she says she is willing to working in a Spanish-speaking location after graduation.
Wyant credits her parents for her drive. “My parents raised me to be a hard worker in everything I do,” she said. “I never felt like doing something halfway was acceptable, so I have always strived to do my best.” Her passion for other cultures also stemmed from her parents, who proactively created travel opportunities for Wyant and her sister. “That continuous exposure to the world has always motivated me to see more and domore. Regardless of whether the drive is academic, athletic, or general pleasure, I think a lot of it originates from them taking us new places and helping our curiosity of the world to flourish.”
Wyant said that the people and opportunities she has encountered at EKU have inspired her success. She specifically thanked the Honors Program, claiming that it “serve(s) as a constant motivation to aspire for better and maintain the rigor needed to exceed expectations.” Coleman expressed admiration of Wyant as well, saying she has the “kind of resourcefulness, energy, and ambition” to “end up being director of the CIA someday.” Among her most influential mentors at EKU, Wyant named Dr. Ryan Baggett and Dr. Brian Simpkins of the homeland security program. “Without the two of them, I doubt my college career would have been as successful,” she said. “They are always looking for experiences to further students’ success and truly want their students to take advantage of every opportunity possible.”
Wyant is currently working on her honors thesis, an analysis of law enforcement human trafficking techniques and methods in Kentucky and the southeastern United States. She has been accepted to present her thesis this year at the Southern Regional Honors Conference in Washington, D.C.; the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and at the Kentucky Intelligence Colloquium in Lexington. She believes the project has significantly informed her career direction. “This particular research has given me the opportunity to attend workshops, network with a variety of professionals, and most importantly, given me the chance to realize how passionate I am about anti-human trafficking efforts.”
Dr. Coleman is convinced that Wyant is “on her way to really big things.” After graduation, she and her fiancé hope to spend a year working in Spain. She later intends to work in the defense sector and eventually earn her master’s degree.
Wyant summed up the moral of all the stories she has to tell in one poignant piece of advice for fellow go-getters: “Fearlessly chase your goals and dreams. People often want to chase after a dream, but are afraid of failure or what they might find; but from my experience, these are the times that can shape you the most and the times you learn the most.”
-- by Madison Harris, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Brand Management