Cavanaugh has never held back academically. She is grateful for the scholarships she has gotten from UConn because they have allowed her to stretch.
“What the scholarships say to me is ‘we want you to focus 100 percent on yourself as a student and, really, as a professional,’” she says.
Cavanaugh won UConn’s Presidential Scholars Award for being a high school valedictorian, and has been supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Fund scholarship. Her political science research has also been funded by the CLAS Alan R. Bennett Honors Research Fund.
She says the aid has eased the financial burden on her family.
“For me, that’s really made UConn a gift,” Cavanaugh says. “It’s really allowed me to go to Stamford last summer for an internship. It paid for my housing and allowed me to engage in research and other opportunities. I love UConn and having that funding is really a gift for me for my family and has taken a lot of the burden off them.”
Cavanaugh, a driven, effervescent 20-year-old from South Windsor, started out as a political science major. But while working on a research project on the presidential election in Argentina, she had to use databases and realized that she wanted to gain a more practical understanding of them. She decided to double major in management information systems along with political science and has found the two majors dovetail nicely.
This overlap was useful for her internship with Capital Consulting Group, a political consulting group in Hartford, and at her internship over the summer at McLagan Partners, business consultants based in Stamford.
“She’s smart, she’s nice, and she’s aggressive intellectually,” said her advisor, Mark Boyer, a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
In fact, Cavanaugh reached out to her UConn advisor even before she stepped foot on campus. As a high school senior, she asked Boyer if she could meet with him to discuss her degree and requirements for the honors program, an unusual step for a high school student.
“Katie is a pretty special individual,” Boyer said. “Frankly, she can do anything that she wants to do. You can see success emanating from her.”
The UConn Foundation’s Transform Lives scholarship initiative supports dynamic students like Cavanaugh. The Foundation’s goal is to raise $150 million, effectively doubling the amount of scholarships and student support at UConn.
Cavanaugh says she initially considered applying only to small, liberal arts colleges, but was impressed by UConn’s diverse student body and broad range of academic opportunities.
“You can’t go to just any college and say ‘I’m going to do two kind of disparate degrees and see how they somehow overlap,’” she says. “That’s something that’s done really well here. First of all, you have those opportunities and, second of all, it’s presented to you in a way that it’s possible to do it all.”
She says the lessons she learned at UConn will always be with her.
“What I love most about UConn is the positivity here on campus, the attitudes you find among students and faculty, and, really, that carries over into alumni. Both internships I found out about through alumni. The UConn community is very much can-do. You can find connections for fun, interesting things that can help you find your own path. That will continue to stick with me.”
Besides the internships and research, Cavanaugh is involved in several clubs, including the UConn Consulting Group, the CLAS Student Leadership Board, Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and Honors Across State Borders – an alternative spring break program.
Cavanaugh plans to work as a technology consultant for several years after she graduates. Then she intends to earn an MBA in a dual program with law or another field, and, eventually, become a college professor.
By: Grace Merritt, UConn Foundation