Katie Brandao ’21

Katie Brandao ’21 by the Amstel river in Amsterdam during her semester abroad.

When I moved to Chapel Hill for my first year at Carolina, I knew that I would miss certain things about my hometown.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, holds memories of studying at Rembrandt’s Coffee Shop, walking with friends across the Walnut Street Bridge, and rowing on the Tennessee River. But there were also some aspects of my life that I didn’t realize I would grieve.

Yes, I missed my classmates, best friends, and family, but leaving behind the adults from my close-knit community created a void. There was Jordan McCarter, my faculty advisor for our high school yearbook, Katie Warren, my best friend’s mom and a fellow crossword puzzle enthusiast, and Brad Whitaker, my rector at St. Paul’s church, to name a few.

These were people beyond my years who had taken an interest in my well-being and growth. They were my mentors.

Once I came to college, it quickly became clear that my interactions with adults would largely dissipate. College is an incredible environment for forming friendships, but it can be much harder to forge relationships with potential mentors.

When the Foundation announced last spring its plans for launching a mentoring program between alumni and scholars, I jumped right on it.

At the time, I was finishing an adversity-filled period abroad in Belgrade, Serbia, as part of my Global Perspective program. I felt drained and uncertain about my future.

I remember the strong sense that what I needed was not a career mentor, but a life mentor. I expressed a desire to be paired with a mentor who had also faced adversity and who might also be able to provide some religious guidance (a tall order, I know).

I got the perfect match.

My mentor is Kristin Breuss ’90, Associate Vicar of the Lighthouse London. After spending close to 20 years working in the financial services industry at Goldman Sachs, she followed her “calling” to join the Anglican Priesthood. In addition to our faith, we could also relate on attending an all-girls high school in Tennessee.

The following semester, I headed to London to study abroad. Kristin invited me to her home in north London for our first meeting. That evening felt like dinner with an old friend. We talked, laughed, and prayed together about topics I seldom talk about with peers my own age. This was what I was looking for. This was the type of connection I had missed from home.

Following that meeting, Kristin and I have visited London’s Tate Modern art gallery together and she’s provided invaluable contacts in the art world. She has also called me monthly since my return to the United States.

As I approach my last year at Carolina, I have a greater sense of calm knowing that I have a mentor who is there to help me weather the storms. I’m so thankful to have met Kristin and for her continued support, even from “across the pond.” Kristin revealed to me the power of knowing that you are never alone.

Katie is a computer science and art history major at Carolina.

To be matched with a mentor, fill out the scholar survey form on the Morehead-Cain Network by June 1. Rising juniors and seniors are eligible to participate. For more information about the Morehead-Cain Mentoring Program, contact Emily Olson, the alumni engagement manager for the Foundation, at emily@moreheadcain.org.

[quote text=”As I approach my last year at Carolina, I have a greater sense of calm knowing that I have a mentor who is there to help me weather the storms.” name=”Katie Brandao” year=”Class of 2021″ /]