Shaping Role Models

Katlyn Winnecke '20, Nursing

Katlyn Winnecke’s story is a little like that of Cinderella’s, except Winnecke’s version has combat boots instead of glass slippers.

The Owensboro, Kentucky, native and 2020 USI nursing major knew she needed to find a university that matched her inner spirit’s “fire” and challenged her to grow and achieve. She had other criteria too—a place that fostered relationships and allowed her to stay connected to family and friends. She’d “tried on” dozens of different schools by applying and taking campus tours, in search of the right fit. But something was always missing.

As her senior year in high school neared, she still hadn’t decided where to attend college. Her mother suggested a trip to USI, and when they visited the campus, nestled in a storybook surrounding, Winnecke knew she’d found her home. “USI was where I wanted to be. It felt like home, a place I could grow, be inspired to become whatever I aspired to be, and I knew there would be genuinely caring people there that would support me.”

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Katlyn snuggling with a puppy brought to USI during finals week to ease student stress

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Katlyn in her ROTC uniform

She found the first of many such people in the College of Nursing and Health Professions faculty Dr. Susan Seibert, instructor in nursing. Winnecke admits feeling intimidated by the instructor, but she quickly learned the depth of Seibert’s passion for students. “There have been multiple instances where I have been stressed and/or confused about material and she re-explained it or was just there for me. She always comes prepared, willing to teach, help and listen. She puts everything into developing someone to be their best.”  

I am so much more confident in myself, my abilities and my potential. Even though I felt like I was being pushed to my limits, I was required to push a little more, knowing that you only grow outside of your comfort zone.

Winnecke’s best includes serving her country as a U.S. Army Corps nurse. She joined USI’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Program at the beginning of her sophomore year, even though she does not come from a military family, committing to four years of service and receiving an Active Duty scholarship. “This not only helped pay for my tuition and relieve financial stress, but it gave me a passion about creating my future. I remember thinking to myself before I signed my contract, “I know this is going to push me out of my comfort zone and to my limits, but I want that. I want to do this,” she says. “It has become my dream.”

During her time at USI, Winnecke has engaged in many activities, such as being Panhellenic affairs vice president for her sorority chapter, that not only matched her inner fire but challenged it by paving it with opportunities that expounded her potential. “I have been able to grow as a person and pave a pathway to achieve my dreams. I will graduate from one of the top nursing schools in Indiana to be able to work for the best military in the world. I am afraid that I would not have been able to access these opportunities and realize the potential in myself to achieve this if I had not attended USI.” 

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Katlyn putting stockings on a mannequin in the nursing simulation lab

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Katlyn and fellow ROTC members

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Katlyn with her mom and sister

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