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For future social worker, Rochester is a place to thrive

May 4, 2018
Kat Bakrania“When I graduate, I’m going to leave here with some really solid friendships and some amazing experiences,” says graduating senior Kat Bakrania. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

Three questions

Favorite University tradition? “Meliora Weekend because I get to be Rocky’s lookout. I make sure Rocky doesn’t pass out and gets water.”

Favorite course? “A political science course called Research Practicum in U.S. Criminal Justice Reform, which was taught by Stuart Jordan. We partnered with a data analysis firm that looks at incarceration statistics.”

What advice would you give to incoming students? “Don’t spend your declining dollars too fast, because it goes really quick. And also, explore the city of Rochester. There’s so much to it!”

Making their mark: This is one in a series of profiles celebrating members of Rochester’s graduating class of 2018.

When Katherine Bakrania ’18 was in third grade, she missed school 76 times. Her father was out of the picture and died a year later. Her mother was in and out of jail and kept moving Katherine to different schools. Her life was a rollercoaster.

“It was a tough time,” says Bakrania, an only child. “But I went to live with my grandparents, and everything changed. They taught me to study and read and got me through high school. They are the reason I’m at the University of Rochester.”

The senior from Warner Robins, Georgia, has crammed a lot into four years of college: Urban Fellows, orientation volunteer, vice president of the student music theater group Off Broadway On Campus, WRUR host, and one half of an acoustic indie pop duo called Candy Isle with friend Lydia Dake ’18. “I love learning and being involved in the community, but I also have a real creative side,” the political science major says.

She’s not done learning, either. This fall, Bakrania will pursue a master’s degree in social work at the University of Pittsburgh. “I used to think social work was just Child Protective Services because that had been my experience as a child when CPS came to my house,” she says. “I took a political science class that partnered me with the Office of Mental Health and really saw the reach of social work.”

Bakrania’s maternal grandmother, Maria, is from Germany, and her grandfather, Prabhu, is from India. They became Kat’s guardians when she was 10 and legally adopted her when she was 17. “Now, we’re this little family,” she says. “They’ve done so much for me.”

Bakrania, a Lieberman Scholar, was eager to start a new life away from Georgia. “I really liked Rochester’s open curriculum and decided to come here,” she says. “It was a big change from Georgia, but I’m all for trying something new.”

She admits to being reserved her first year at the University. “I stayed on campus in my little bubble, but then I started to realize what a great place Rochester is, and I joined a lot of different things. Rochester is a booming, thriving place, but a lot of students don’t give it a chance.”

In addition to her work with Child Protective Services, Bakrania’s Urban Fellows project was as a summer meals coordinator for Foodlink. “We partnered up with 68 sites by the end of summer to help provide meals to children in the city of Rochester,” she says. “It was a great experience.”

Bakrania says her time at the University changed her life. “It was really important for me to leave home, travel 16 hours, and toss myself in a place with snow, a place that I wasn’t accustomed to,” she says. “When I graduate, I’m going to leave here with some really solid friendships and some amazing experiences.”

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Category: Student Life

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