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Thomas Jefferson Scholars Alumni Feature: Katherine Broyhill

From Thomas Jefferson Scholar to Levine Cancer Institute, Katherine (Katie) Broyhill makes a difference as a Cancer Genetic Counselor.

Katherine “Katie” Broyhill is a former Thomas Jefferson Scholar (TJS) who currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, and works at the Levine Cancer Institute as a Cancer Genetic Counselor. Part of her job is offering genetic testing for hereditary cancer syndromes for patients with strong family histories of cancer. In addition to working at the Levine Cancer Institute, Broyhill enjoys writing. She and her friend Kevin Schaefer co-wrote a science fiction/romantic comedy young adult graphic novel that is currently represented by the Belcastro Agency and is out on submission. Broyhill shares her experience as a Thomas Jefferson Scholar.

What is a favorite memory that you have of being a Thomas Jefferson Scholar?

It’s hard to pick just one. I loved our international trip to Italy — one of my favorite memories is sitting on the hotel balcony with Dr. Kimler and some of my fellow scholars, eating Italian cheese and wine and talking about all the sites we got to see that day. I also got to go to Philadelphia with the Jeffersons. The Mütter Museum made a huge impression. We had some lovely, chaotic road-trips. I didn’t think I would remember being crammed in a small van fondly, but I do. I always appreciated our bi-weekly lecturers, too. One that stood out was a forensic scientist — I still talk about that talk to this day.

And of course, there’s the infamous Halloween mythology/botany lecture. I bet you get that answer multiple times. We all remember the Halloween lecture.

How did your participation in the TJS program prepare you for life after college?

This may not be the answer you’re looking for, but it made me a lot of life-long friends. I still text with people I met through the Jefferson Scholars all the time. A TJS friend got me my first job out of college, and I play D&D and swap creative writing with another TJS friend. Pre-COVID we even had a murder-mystery dinner get-together for some of my class that is still living in North Carolina. We’re scattered geographically now, but TJS has a special place in my heart.

TJS also prepared me because it gave me a broad education in college. Career-wise, I’m in a field where I need both a technical biology background and writing and counseling skills. Both my majors have been invaluable. It also gave me the confidence to pursue my less career-oriented passions. I always wanted to write creatively, but if I had been forced to choose between Biology and English, I probably would have chosen Biology to play it safe. Because I was also an English major, I was able to meet people that honed my creative writing skills and encouraged me on my way. I met the co-author of my upcoming graphic novel, Kevin, in a creative writing class. I met my husband, Holden, because we were both writing for the Technician.

Thinking back on TJS, is there anything that you would change about the program?

Not really. I would just change how I approached it. I was trying to do too much in college and would often skip optional dinners and things. But it’s been one of the most helpful things I did, and I would have tried to participate more.

Having a dual natural science and humanities/social science degree is still quite rare. What would be your advice for someone considering a dual degree?

It’s going to be hard no matter what, but it’s easier with support. And even if you think you might not, trust me, you’ll use them both.

What advice do you have for current Thomas Jefferson Scholars?

Go to the optional dinners. Are you all still doing Monday dinners? It’s dinner — you have time. You can study later. Well… after the pandemic go to the optional dinners.