Heart of a champion

Scholarships help veterinary student follow her passion

By Sara Wallace

“Vet med is an expensive program and without scholarships, teaching Taekwondo would be way more challenging to do. Scholarships allow me to do this as my hobby and not as a sole means of financial support.” — Katherine Spaulding


Two-time world sparring champion Katherine Spaulding walks into Manhattan’s local Evolution Martial Arts studio every Thursday night for a night of teaching Taekwondo. As a K-State undergraduate and now as a graduate student in veterinary medicine, Spaulding has been an instructor to a range of students, from five-year-olds to adults. Spaulding has spent 17 years practicing Taekwondo and continues to do so without her hobby becoming a job, thanks to scholarships.

“Vet med is an expensive program and without scholarships, teaching Taekwondo would be way more challenging to do,” Spaulding said. “Scholarships allow me to do this as my hobby and not as a sole means of financial support.”

Spaulding has always been motivated to improve as she moved higher in Taekwondo rank, learning to use weapons and to spar. She started competing at the age of eight, working with instructors who taught her confidence and respect. Now she shares this knowledge with her students.

“As an instructor, my goal for all of my students is to make them feel that incredible feeling of success I have experienced winning my world titles,” Spaulding said. “Even if it’s getting their black belt and that’s the most amazing thing in the world to them, then I want to help them reach that.”

The skills Spaulding has learned from Taekwondo have translated to her work in veterinary medicine. She spent last January in Honduras as a volunteer veterinarian working sunup to sundown doing high-volume and high-quality spay and neuters on animals. Learning to stay focused and organized on the task ahead are skills she learned from Taekwondo.

“We did surgery after surgery and didn’t leave for the day until we were finished because we went to a different village every day,” Spaulding said. “That’s where I appreciate scholarships even more because it helped me go on that trip, and I know there are people who are willing to financially support us helping others.”

Spaulding lives for challenge, whether that challenge is winning two world sparring championships or doing intense volunteer work in Honduras. As challenging as her academic program and teaching activities are, she doesn’t see herself being defeated any time soon.

“The school-work balance is challenging for sure, and there are some days where I wonder ‘Why did I want to do this?’ But I absolutely love the challenge of it in a different way,” Spaulding said. “I feel like I owe it to whomever created my scholarship to continue to do what I love and what I’m passionate about.”

Katherine Spaulding

Read more stories from the summer 2019 issue of Good for K-State.