Catherine Ryberg

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Catherine Ryberg, a senior at Rock Bridge High School, doesn’t sweat the small stuff. She goes straight to the Big Issues and is already having an impact on them. She’s president of Rock Bridge Reaches Out, the community service student organization, and she’s a founding member of the Youth Advisory Committee for Columbia.

“From the very first session, our efforts [at YAC] have been largely focused on developing solutions that will inhibit the cycle of poverty on a local level,” Catherine wrote in her essay. “We aim to identify needs within the community and address them in a way that produces tangible results… YAC has acquired supplies and money for the CRIBS program at Douglass High School, a child care program for high school parents who still need to graduate; spread awareness of the existence of human trafficking in Columbia; and improved social equity by creating a survey which helped to identify the needs of those in impoverished neighborhoods in Columbia.”

She’s talked with police officers and city council members about contentious issues, if not to solve them, then at least to share a young person’s perspective on them. “After all, we are not just the voices of the future; we are the voices of today,” Catherine observed.

In addition to her outreach roles, Catherine is a member of the National Honor Society and National French Honor Society. She is a member of the Rock Bridge Indian dance group, and concert and show choirs.

She plans to pursue a career that combines science and public service. “For me, what is most compelling about science is its application to human health. Several experiences in high school have fostered this interest, including spreading awareness of Cystic Fibrosis and various cancers, researching potential gene therapies for HIV, and producing a TED Talk style lecture on the implications of meat consumption in disease prevention.”

Catherine sees public health as the perfect career path to combine her interest in science and public service. “I could become a physician or dentist who provides care to globally underserved populations, a clinical researcher, or even an advocate for health policy in a legislative body.

Becoming a global health professional would allow me to use my talents to address disparities in healthcare around the world, a task that I would feel honored to take on.”

Catherine is the daughter of Steven and Elizabeth Ryberg of Columbia.

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