Name: Cathy Sims

Hometown: Madison, Wis.

Title: Health aide

Business: Casa Community Services

When Cathy arrived at Lakeland, religion was in the background of her thoughts. By the time she left, it was a significant force in her life.

“I had grown up in church and gone on mission trips when I was young, but I had kind of backed away from religion,” she says. “My first day at Lakeland, the chaplain was making her rounds and stopped in my room, and we had an immediate connection. Really, that connection brought my faith back.”

As a religion major, Cathy dove with zeal into classes such as feminist theology and biblical interpretation. Meanwhile, her work outside the classroom was a shining example of real-life community outreach. She started three clubs: the Lakeland Service Group (which rang the bell during Salvation Army drives and provided daycare for a local church); the Eco Friends (which focused on campus-wide recycling and composting); and the Spiritual Life Council (which encouraged students of all denominations to visit the chapel and participate in school activities).

After graduating in 2010, Cathy was chosen for a year-long volunteer program through the United Church of Christ called Young Adult Service Communities. She was assigned to Southern Arizona, and worked for the senior lunch program and the adult day health care program. She took and passed a class to become a certified caregiver, and the day after the year-long program ended, she was hired fulltime.

Outside of work, her community service continues, mostly through a local church.

Cathy’s long-term goal is to become a health care administrator or run her own health care or hospice care organization.

“I think as far as my religion degree, it will be beneficial for the kind of counseling I will be able to give family members whose loved ones are at the end of life,” she says.

As Cathy looks back on her time at Lakeland, she recalls how her perspective changed after some initial trepidation.

“After the first year, I absolutely loved it. I had so many friends, so many great relationships with students, faculty and staff. When it came time to graduate, I did not want to leave.”