In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is highlighting distinguished members of the Class of 2020 from a wide array of disciplines.
Catchpole, who is majoring in public health studies with a biological aspects concentration and biology, was recently recognized as the Outstanding Public Health Studies Senior for the Class of 2020. “Rilee represents the best of Public Health Studies and the best of Elon,” said Cindy Fair, chair of the Department of Public Health Studies.
How did you choose Public Health Studies as a major?
During my first semester at Elon, I decided to take Introduction to Public Health Studies in order to fulfill a core requirement. I certainly did not expect my enrollment in one class to change the course of my Elon education. I learned a lot about the importance of public health and how it is integrated into so many aspects of our daily lives. Engaging in this class broadened my perspective on healthcare as a whole and ultimately shaped my future path at Elon as a PHS major as I worked toward my long-term goal of having a career in healthcare.
What is your proudest accomplishment while at Elon?
My proudest accomplishment while at Elon would have to be the opportunity to volunteer at the Open Door Clinic of Alamance County for the last three years and serve as volunteer coordinator this last year. I was placed there for my practicum and continued volunteering once that concluded. This experience showed me the importance of access to healthcare and looking at health in a holistic manner. The ODC also introduced me to people that have such a passion for what they do and inspired me to feel the same.
How have relationships with faculty furthered your educational goals or helped you grow?
I had the privilege to take courses with almost all of the Public Health Studies faculty and believe that they have all furthered my career in some way and want to thank them for all they have done for me. The PHS faculty are all very passionate about what they do and it truly shows in how they teach.
What are your future plans?
My goal is to attend physician assistant school in the future and I plan use my time after graduation to prepare for that next step.
What advice would you give to future Elon students, or what do you wish you had known as a first-year student?
As a first-year student, I wish I knew to make the most of every opportunity available to me. With the end of senior year being quite different than I expected, it has given me time to reflect on all of the amazing opportunities and moments I have had here at Elon and wish for a few more.
What’s your favorite Elon tradition?
My favorite Elon tradition would have to be how we receive an acorn when we arrive at Elon and an oak sapling when we graduate. While I have not received the oak sapling yet and no one is sure when that will be, it is my favorite tradition because it signifies our growth while at Elon as well as our potential for growth after graduation.