Katherine Colburn ’24 named Outstanding Islander Graduate for the College of Education and Human Development

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Achieving excellence both inside and outside the classroom is at the heart of being an Outstanding Islander Graduate. Each semester, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi selects a group of exceptional graduating Islanders — one from each academic college — who have made a lasting Islander Impact. These students are not only high academic achievers but have often overcome major adversity to reach the graduation stage.

This year’s seven Outstanding Islander Graduates will earn their diplomas at the Spring 2024 Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 18. Their journey to this moment — fueled by determination, perseverance, and grit — highlights their unwavering commitment to finishing what they have started.

Please join us in celebrating Katherine Colburn ’24, who is earning a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from the College of Education and Human Development.

Taking a step. Holding a toothbrush. Scratching your nose. It’s those simple movements that we take for granted that have helped inspire Colburn’s academic successes. Colburn hopes to use her kinesiology degree to eventually become an occupational therapist.

“I have a deep desire to help people regain their ability to move,” Colburn said. “Even something as simple as assistance brushing teeth can bring a person joy.”

Colburn is no stranger to The Island University. At just 7 years old, she would visit campus with her mother who was then working on her master’s degree.

“Years later, I attended various music camps on campus,” she recounted. “The university has always felt like home to me. I couldn’t imagine attending college anywhere else.”

Her official start as a student at the Island University began in fall 2020, and she hit the ground running. She was not only part of the Honors Program but also worked as an undergraduate research assistant at both the university’s Conrad Blucher Institute (CBI) for Surveying and Science and in the Department of Kinesiology’s Exercise Physiology and Biomechanics labs.

“At CBI, I was part of the NFS AI2ES Coastal Inundation team, led by Dr. Philippe Tissot, which immersed me in the field of artificial intelligence. It also allowed me to present three posters at three national conferences,” she said. “At CBI, I also collaborated with Dr. Marina Vicens-Miquel ’20, ’24, a Ph.D. student, to co-author two journal articles. I know this is an amazing feat, and I am very proud to have been a part of the process.”

In the Biomechanics lab, Colburn worked under the direction of Dr. Bryon Applequist to study how our vision impacts the way we walk.

“Over the last two years working with Dr. Applequist, I have gained an enormous amount of skills and knowledge, which give me confidence that I can succeed in graduate school,” Colburn said. “The community I found in the lab was very supportive and made me feel like we were accomplishing something meaningful. During the study, I recognized how rare it is for undergraduates to create and lead a research study, and that is something I won’t ever take for granted.”

Colburn presented three additional posters at three regional conferences based on her work in the Biomechanics lab.

 “Because of presentations both inside and outside of the classroom and my leadership experiences, I learned how to contribute to and initiate conversations,” she said. “I now know that what I have to say is worth hearing. It’s something ‘high school me’ would have never imagined I would say.”

Colburn benefited from many scholarships during her time as an Islander, including the Achieve Scholarship, the Honors Program Scholarship, and the Lawrence M. Atkins Endowed Scholarship. She also won the HCA Patricia Frist Memorial Scholarship, a highly competitive national scholarship.

“Having these scholarships was a game-changer for me,” Colburn said. “Because of them, my tuition was fully covered which has allowed me to save my paychecks to build up my savings for graduate school. The positive impact of the scholarships will follow me for years to come.”

Colburn’s next step in her academic journey will take her to Lubbock for a seat in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Texas Tech. From there, she plans on being a fully licensed occupational therapist who travels from city to city to provide care.

"Though I had no Idea what to expect from my time at TAMU-CC, my experiences at the Island University ended up being exactly what I needed to become a better version of myself and propel me towards my future career," she said.