Service runs in Katie Marshall’s blood. Her family had a team approach.

“How can we become leaders in our own corner of the world and make a difference?” her parents would ask. Whether sending food packages to Africa or offering a smile to someone at the supermarket, Katie approached each day as a chance to serve.

When she learned that UNCG’s motto is “Service,” Katie knew she was home. “That woke something up in me,” she says. “It’s more than a motto; it’s a way of learning, a way of being.” Her understanding of servant leadership grew.

In his Introduction to Community Leadership class, Dr. Preston Yarborough challenged Katie and her team to create an event that would change the campus. When they presented their plan, he said, “Now I want you to actually implement this.”

“We were shaking in our boots,” Katie recalls.

But the leader inside her emerged. And the greater the pull to lead, the more she felt compelled to serve.

Katie credits her communication studies major, a relational communications class with Dr. Killian Manning and active roles in student organizations with fueling her passion for servant leadership. She progressed through the bronze, silver and gold medal award process with the Office of Leadership and Service-Learning. Serving as a Spartan Orientation Leader, a consultant for the University Speaking Center and a leader in the Student Government Association for three years all prepared her for the next steps.

“At 21, representing 18,500 students as student body president was a lot. My voice had to be a collage that represented everyone’s voice. It’s incredible what I was able to do and learn – things that I still use today.”

After only two years as online communications specialist with Volvo Financial Services Global headquarters in Greensboro, Katie was promoted. Working with experienced business leaders, designing and giving presentations – everything she does, she can link back to UNCG and the experiential ways in which her servant leadership skills were honed.

“I strive for the same high bar that UNCG set,” she says.

Katie wants every young person to have the leadership experiences she did. Serving as a leader for the Alumni Club of Greensboro is one way she connects with her peers.

When chosen among scores of applicants to give a TEDx talk in Greensboro last April, she used the opportunity to challenge her audience: “How do you go from student to professional? What are the top three things college students should be doing to prepare themselves? And what are the top qualifications employers are looking for in a new hire?”

This is where Katie sees herself making an impact — as a connector between employers and new graduates. “What are we not telling each other?” she asks. “Where are the blind spots? I see so many who could be employed here in Greensboro and so many businesses that could employ them. If that’s not happening all the time, why not?”

Her search for the answers is shaping her future goal – to awaken the servant leader in every UNCG alumni.

“I want to get others excited about their own spotlight opportunity. I’ve had so many moments in the sun. How can I find moments in the sun for you?”

Story by contributor Kathleen Martinek

Photography by Christopher English, University Relations