Title: Financial Aid Counselor/Process Analyst
Department: Financial Aid & Scholarships
Years at UNLV: 7, first as a student and now as a full-time employee.
Immediate family: Mother, brother, and four dog siblings.
Katherine Burdick is celebrated for her sense of humor and for spreading laughter. “Financial aid is a hard office to work, with its complicated rules and having to give students bad news. But she (Katherine) works hard and is always trying to make others laugh,” said Misty Valentin, the student academic integration coordinator. “Kat is amazing — a champion for all, students and co-workers.” Burdick is a first-generation Latina student who graduated with a degree in communications and is working on her graduate degree in public administration. She is a great talent behind the scenes and deserves to be spotlighted for her inspiration to students and colleagues.
Tell us about your experience at UNLV.
As a proud alumna and current graduate student at UNLV, I definitely think my journey started as an undergraduate student. After completing my associate’s degree at CSN, I transferred to UNLV to complete my bachelor’s degree in communication studies. I was an active member of the Rebel Events Board and was a student employee at the Student Union and event services office. I graduated in 2015 and was hired at the financial aid & scholarships office where I’ve been ever since. After a couple of years, I knew I needed to further my education to advance my career and fulfill a personal goal. I enrolled in the graduate certificate in public management and once I completed that (in 2019), I went into the master of public administration program. If all goes well, I will graduate in fall 2020.
What is your favorite thing about working at UNLV?
I love being on campus! Some of the best benefits include having access to four different major coffee chains (miss you, Rebel Grounds!) and access to great food within walking distance. Even after seven years, the landscape has changed so much, and it’s great being able to see UNLV continue to grow. I have also met some of the most genuine and important people in my life during my time at UNLV. It’s great to be able to link up for lunch when possible or go spend time with them after work. After spending a majority of my time at work and in classes, UNLV feels like a second home to me.
What trait do you most like about yourself?
Not to sound cheesy, but I think I’m pretty funny. I love joking around with my colleagues and making others laugh. It definitely helps to de-escalate tense situations, and it builds rapport with others. You can always catch me making jokes with my friends and at work.
If you could learn to master one thing, what would it be?
Backpacking! I highly admire people who backpack around the world. I want to get into more outdoor adventures, but I find it intimidating to think about doing it alone. I want to start hiking longer distances and camping locally then gradually move farther away from home.
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I love to cook! I grew up watching the Food Network and seriously considered going to culinary school after high school. I decided to go to college instead because my passion for cooking was home-oriented, and I didn’t know if I had the guts to work in a real kitchen. I don’t usually have enough time to cook, but I love trying new recipes and trying new foods. I follow a lot of my favorite chefs on social media, and I’m so spoiled to live in Las Vegas where we have some of the best restaurants in the world. One of my life goals is to eat at every one of Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s restaurants. So far, I have dined at the location here and the one in Honolulu.
Tell us about a woman who’s been a mentor to you.
I have had the privilege of being around multiple strong women throughout my professional career and personal life who have taught me so much. I would consider Misty Valentin (office of the vice provost for undergraduate education) as my primary mentor during my initial years in the financial aid & scholarships office. She hired me right out of college and believed in me whenever I doubted my own skills. Misty showed me what true leadership looks like and pushed me to not be afraid of who I am, and I aspire to be a powerful role model to others like she was to me.
Any advice for young women starting careers on campus?
Don’t be afraid to be outspoken! Our voices are a powerful tool that we can use to bring light to those who aren’t given the chance to be heard — whether that’s asking questions, asking for help, getting involved, or speaking out about an issue.