Kathleen Monroe  |  April 29, 2019

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews featuring RUF Alumni. 

Let's start off with who you are and what you do?

My name is Kathleen Monroe. I am currently finishing the last semester of my Master of Music in cello performance at Cleveland State University and am almost halfway through being trained in the Suzuki method, which is a music teaching philosophy, at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I nanny five mornings a week to make ends meet as a grad student, but have loved becoming a part of that family. I am so looking forward to combining my passions of playing cello and working with children to be able to share the joy, creativity, and discipline gained through learning an instrument and be a source of encouragement and hope in these students' lives.

What college did you graduate from?

I graduated with my Bachelor of Music from University of Maryland College Park, where I was hugely involved with RUF. From before I even stepped foot onto the campus for orientation, I had been in contact with Chris about a potential roommate whom he suggested, who ended up being one of my closest friends. I went to pretty much every RUF event and Bible study my entire freshman year. I was able to become a part of the leadership team and help lead the girl's Bible study for the rest of my time there. It was there that I found my core group of people (many of whom became my roommates) who continually encouraged me and pointed me to Christ throughout my undergrad in RUF. 

Who was your campus minister when you attended RUF?

Chris Garriott was my campus minister all 4 years and I am forever thankful for the wisdom and encouragement that he poured into me throughout that time. 

What is your favorite memory from RUF?

There are too many memories to count, but one of my favorite memories is the weekend camping trip we took during my senior year. Before we left, we found out there was supposed to be a cold front along with rain, but decided to go ahead with the trip. We ended up not reaching the parking lot for the campground until after dark and then found out that we had to hike two miles in the rain to our actual campsite, which we setup at 9 o'clock at night. There were no sinks in the 'bathroom' which was a walk up a hill from our campsite, so we ended up all collectively brushing our teeth outside in the freezing cold dark. The four girls ended up piling into a 2 person tent for warmth (and for protection from bears...). The next day turned out to be a beautiful sunny day filled with hot cocoa and pancakes made over a fire by our amazing campus minister, followed by a breathtaking hike. What could easily have been a miserable trip due to the circumstances around us turned out to be an amazing time of laughter, silliness, long serious talks, singing, selfie-taking, and community! Stories from that trip became legend in our RUF and were even relayed by Chris at the wedding of two of the people on the trip. 

How has RUF impacted how you approach your career? 
When I first began coming to RUF, my goal was to pretty much avoid all other people on campus and put myself into a 'safe' bubble. Throughout the four years at UMD, I was challenged to grow relationships and friendships with the many other people I encountered on a daily basis in classes and rehearsals. Chris and the interns really helped me in learning what it meant to live boldly in my faith and lovingly to all those around me. I was able to have some really amazing interactions with some of my non-christian music friends as I learned how to mesh my worlds of faith and music and see how they relate. I am still learning what it should look like in my life to love Jesus and the people around me as a musician, but am so thankful for Chris' insight and encouragement in this area. 

What would you say to an incoming freshman?

I would say get plugged into a Christian community on campus where you are reminded of the Gospel all the time and where you can find strong community and discipleship. Having a core group of friends who can continually encourage and point you to Christ will completely transform your undergraduate years. Also, find a local church that you can become attend regularly and become a part of, because college can easily become a selfish all consuming bubble, and it is so important to be reminded of how God is working in the church and the world. It is 100% worth it to make time for your faith and community, as this season only comes once.