Cheering for student engagement: Katie Council
The enthusiastic new president of the Student Government Association has rarely passed up a leadership opportunity. Katie Council is a Washington High School senior, captain of the Pam Pack cheerleading team, and enrolled at Beaufort County Community College in both the Associate in Arts and the Associate in Science programs, planning to transfer to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill or North Carolina State University.
Council is now in her second year at BCCC. Through Career & College Promise (CCP) she can take free college classes while still attending high school. The program covers textbooks, as well, and students can take classes online, in-person, or through broadcast classes, depending on availability. Many top-ranking high school students take advantage of the program to help position them for university admission.
“I wanted to increase my class rank at my high school,” says Council. “I knew I wanted to go to university with multiple credits under my belt so hopefully I can get my degree–political science–faster than if I wouldn’t have taken classes here.”
Besides cheer, Council also played on the golf team, was a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and was a part of the SGA since she started at Washington HS. She started as freshman class vice-president, moved into sophomore class president, and stayed on with SGA during her junior year, though there were no officers elected that year.
The disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic was shock to someone like Council, who keeps her color-coded calendar packed with commitments.
“I remember going home from school one day and getting the call saying that we’ll be out of school for two weeks,” she recalls. “It went from having so much to do all the time for my whole entire life to not a lot for two weeks. It was a good break, but I missed everything. It was definitely different for me. As clubs have opened back up, I’ve jumped on it again to get involved.”
She sees SGA as a hub for other student organizations, helping to boost student engagement across the board. She is also the vice-president of Gamma Beta Phi, BCCC’s honor society and the president of the BCCC Environmental Alliance. That brings her to four leadership positions between Washington HS and BCCC.
She thinks that joining groups has been good for her mentally, and she has witnessed its positive effects on others.
“I’ve seen a difference in the mental health of people who are more involved,” she said. “It keeps you busy, it keeps you on your feet. I definitely see an improvement in mental health. I’ve built many friendships from cheer, from golf. If I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be where I am now. The main thing that drives me is the community of these groups.”
This enthusiasm for making new connections and staying involved has been a lifelong habit for Council. She grew up participating in All-Star Cheer, but when she started high school, she wanted to diversify her involvement to prepare for college. She has dropped some activities so she can focus on her college applications. This year at Beaufort will be a transition for her between high school and university.
“My personality and how I’ve been raised growing up has always said, ‘work hard, go do it, if you want to do it, do it,’ so I think that’s why I have always done so much. I like to challenge myself, so if I can do as many clubs and help as many organizations as I can, I will. I really love helping people–just, honestly, making the world a better place.”