Auger & Auger is proud to announce Katherine Knight as a winning recipient of our Disabled Scholar Awards for the 2020 Spring Semester. Multiple scholarships for $1,000 are presented during the spring and fall terms to college students across the United States who have exceeded expectations and worked hard to transcend the impact of their disabilities. All recipients of the Auger & Auger Disabled Scholar Award have achieved excellence inside and outside their classrooms, and are making a positive impact in their communities.
Katherine “Katie” Knight’s winning essay, impressive course selections and sky-high grades moved us to find out a little more about her life and goals. Last week we held an interview with her, allowing us to weave together her written and spoken words. It is our honor to publish this post, and we encourage inspired readers to extend the reach of her motivating story.
Katie was born with a form of cerebral palsy (CP), mainly affecting her legs. She had always been self-conscious about the constant bend in her knees caused by straining muscles and tendons — and was embarrassed by the leg braces often hiding underneath leggings or a pair of pants. Yet, for the most part, Katie had grown to accept her condition.
“The younger you are when disabilities appear, the more they shape you as a person. There are fewer ways around the situation, and you have time and resilience on your side. Finding out ‘your reason’ is like a puzzle with pieces gathered along the way.”
Katie remembers having major reconstruction surgery at the age of 6, performed by Dr. William Schrantz at Shriners Hospital for Children in Erie, PA. Before retiring, he took the time to sit down with each of his patients and their families to discuss what he thought could be a plan for their future.
“Dr. Schrantz told me all about a window of opportunity that would come along when I was fully grown — a femoral osteotomy surgery that would turn out my left foot and make it straight. He was such an amazing man and I’m so grateful to have had him as my doctor!”
Katie found the perfect inspiration she needed on Ted Talks, from the survivor of a near-fatal onset of Meningococcal Meningitis. When Amy Purdy was 19 years old, she had suffered the loss of both legs and kidneys, and also her spleen. And yet, she went on to live ‘a life beyond limits,’ globally celebrated for her Paralympic snowboarding medals, travels with Oprah, and a runner-up finish in Series 18 of Dancing with the Stars. But Amy was much more than famous for Katie — she was (and still is) a model of fortitude, excellence, and positivity.
“At the age of 15, the dream became a reality when I was able to undergo the left femoral osteotomy I had looked forward to for so long. Dr. Sarah Nossov with Shriners in Philadelphia was my surgeon, and she also performed patellar tendon advancements on both of my knees — which pulled them into the right spot (straight instead of bent) and significantly reduced my pain!”
These days Katie’s knees are straighter than they ever were, and she feels better than she ever has. There is no longer a constant pain in her joints from the stress of her muscles.
“Most of all, this surgery has made me so much happier. I no longer look to the future, I live in the now. I am finally happy with who I am and that feels better than anything. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity that has changed my life forever. I am proud of myself for taking this chance. I know that there will be many hard days ahead but this time I am ready.”
Katie’s fierce independence is visible and contagious. Scanning through Katie’s high school academic records revealed a passion for mathematics; from algebra and geometry to calculus, trigonometry, statistics, and computer science — followed by their corresponding honors and AP classes! Add this to 4 years of Spanish, English through AP, medical terminology, anatomy, and then a class entitled Shakespeare for Everybody. We were intrigued…
“I love to read and really enjoy writing essays! That said, my education is aimed at earning a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering, with a Masters in Prosthetics and Orthotics. I want to create devices that bend without breaking, because as an active child I would always end up with ill-fitting or backup pairs.”
Of the 3 acceptance letters Katie has received thus far, her plan is to attend the University of Toledo’s College of Engineering’s Bioengineering Program for the Fall of 2020. It is closer to home for visits and is an active participant in the state’s Ohio First for Engineering Entrepreneurs — an objective to increase and retain the number of engineering graduates with the skills needed to support economic growth for Ohio.
So Katie, given this opportunity, what message would you like to share with our country, and the world?
“Make the most of what you have. Live confidently and be proud of everything you are able to do, even if that looks different than someone else. Every person’s life is a unique experience, and I think it is very important to use our own lessons of empowerment to better the lives of others and protect the world we call ‘home.’ If we can unite our efforts in creating solutions, even the most complex problems will be able to be solved.”