With Student Organizations as Her ‘Backbone,’ Herslow Ready to Graduate From Sandburg Before Attending Nursing School

GALESBURG — Kathryne Herslow was in grade school the first time she remembers being at Carl Sandburg College.

Her mother, Veronica, was a student at the time and on her way toward graduating with her nursing degree in 2014.

“I don't know why, but I liked it. I really wanted to go here at that moment in time, and I was only like 10 years old,” Herslow said. “My mom just walked around the school with me, and she's like, ‘You're going to go here one day.’”

Mother knew best.

Herslow, a 2020 Galesburg High School graduate, will earn her first degree from Sandburg at the college’s commencement Thursday evening. After that, she’s going to follow in her mother’s footsteps by going to nursing school here this fall at her hometown college.

Herslow’s first year at Sandburg coincided with the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With all her classes taking place online, she noticed she became less outgoing. She started spending more time to herself and began having anxiety around others.

Then she got an email from Genny Stevens, Sandburg’s coordinator of student life, inviting Herslow to become a student ambassador. Sandburg student ambassadors serve and represent the college in a variety of ways, including giving tours to prospective students and assisting with orientation sessions.

Then she met with Anthony Law, Sandburg’s coordinator of diversity and inclusion. He told Herslow about Women of Character, a service and leadership group on campus. Joining those two organizations, Herslow said, changed her experience at Sandburg and made her a better leader.

“They were kind of like my backbone,” said Herslow, who served as the president of WOC this year. “I became more outgoing. I just started loving Sandburg more, in a sense. It wasn’t the same routine over and over again.”

Being back on campus and taking classes in person also helped change Herslow’s outlook.

“Before when we weren't here, I was always at home stuck on the laptop, and I'd never done online classes before,” Herslow said. “It was harder for me. When the transition to come back to the college came, it was easier because everyone was helpful. If you asked anyone at the college for help, they’d help you immediately.”

That support system was one reason Herslow decided to apply for Sandburg’s nursing program. When she told Stevens back in March that she’d been accepted to it for the 2023-24 academic year, the two screamed together over the phone. Law has already talked to Herslow about her pinning ceremony for when she graduates from nursing school.

While this week will be the first time Herslow will get to walk at her own graduation (her high school ceremony was reconfigured because of COVID), she’s saving her biggest celebration for her next degree from Sandburg. She even has a Pinterest board with nursing-themed party ideas, and her cake is already picked out.

“I guess it gives me a sense of motivation,” Herslow said, “the feeling of succeeding.” 

Kathryn Herslow with WOC award
Carl Sandburg College student Kathryn Herslow received the 2023 Women of Character Leadership Award during the college’s Student Awards & Recognition Ceremony earlier this month. Herslow served as the president of WOC, a service and leadership organization at Sandburg.