Our last fellow spotlight concludes with Kathryn Draughon, a senior at Louisiana State University! She will graduate from LSU in May 2023 with a major in Marketing Professional Sales. Originally from Alexandria, Louisiana, Kathryn's proximity to her hometown ignited her passion for travel, which eventually prompted her decision to study abroad. She is looking forward to her move in the fall to Atlanta, eager to embrace the energy of a big city.
Having grown up traveling extensively across the United States with her family, she developed a deep love for exploring new places. Kathryn has always been an independent traveler, starting at the age of 13 when she went to New York City to dance for the
The notion of traveling alone didn't intimidate her, thanks to her parents consistently pushing her beyond her comfort zone and encouraging her to pursue her dreams. Ever since the summer after her freshman year of college, she followed someone on Instagram who traveled with LeadAbroad to Cape Town. This sparked Kathryn to pursue a similar adventure. Additionally, after seeing some of her friends from another sorority at LSU participate in LEAD Greece, Kathryn solidified her determination to study abroad and desired that same once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As soon as LeadAbroad applications opened during her junior year of college, she promptly applied to join LEAD Greece as a student. The summer before her senior year at LSU, she boarded a plane to Athens, Greece, anticipating the opportunity to make new friends during her solo journey. Little did she know that by the end of that month abroad, she would forge connections with future bridesmaids, discover lifelong best friends, and gather unforgettable memories and experiences that would stay with her forever.
"Going to Greece this past summer by myself, I was extremely nervous about making friends," said Kathryn. However on the flight to Athens, she instantly met so many people. After the 9-hour flight together, she felt like she had already met amazing people and was so excited to see what relationships would be built in the next month.
"Of course, I had the best time with all the people I met, but a year ago me would have never guessed that some of the girls I met abroad would be some of my best friends now even back in America. We all traveled to each other’s colleges this semester to visit each other for football games and have planned trips together for the rest of winter break. Some of these girls will definitely be bridesmaids in my wedding one day, and I would have never found a bond like this or built relationships like these without LeadAbroad," said Kathryn.
Going abroad, Kathryn witnessed a transformation in her life, particularly in realizing and prioritizing her values. LeadAbroad lessons emphasized discovering one's core values, and Kathryn identified loving God, loving others, and building valuable relationships as her top priorities. Since that summer, these values have guided her decisions, shaping her goals for the future.
Kathryn attributes much of her current success to the support system and unique relationships she formed through LeadAbroad. The network she gained through LeadAbroad serves as a valuable resource for jobs and recommendation letters.
"The memories we made, laughs we had, and cries we shared in Greece created a bond with these people that is irreplaceable. LeadAbroad has given me far beyond anything I would have ever imagined. It was something that is hard to put into words because it means so much to me and has changed my life in so many ways."
Kathryn is enthusiastic for every aspect of the fellowship, especially to build lasting relationships with students abroad. Reflecting on her own experience, she values the connections made by program directors and interns, and hopes to follow in their footsteps this upcoming summer. "I know how much of an impact the LeadAbroad staff had on me as a student abroad, so I am so excited to get to know the students that I will be abroad with this summer," said Kathryn.