Alumni Profile: Katherine Barger, B.A. English '99

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Those who meet New York attorney Katherine Barger might be surprised to know she was a high school dropout.

When she came to Alaska from Seattle seeking adventure and starting at UAA in 1995, she wasn't sure where to start. In a 200-level English class with professor Judith Moore, Katherine received back a paper with a post-it note informing her she'd received a scholarship paying for two semesters of tuition. After class she asked Moore, "What does this mean? Who knows me?"

Moore told her, "We know you."

UAA alumni profile Katherine Barger"You could tell immediately that Katherine is special. She is very intellectually active and is a highly efficient person," says Moore. Katherine was an apt student who asked a lot of questions and took full advantage of faculty office hours and labs.  

Katherine was also doing well in her math classes, and her math professors encouraged her to be a math major. But when English professor Patty Linton got wind of that she said to Katherine, "Tell them hands off -- you're ours!"

As Katherine was pulled deeper into the nurturing community of UAA's English department, she noticed individual attention like that was not uncommon, and she wasn't the only student treated so well by professors like Moore, Linton, Michael Haley and Genie Babb, among others.

 "I give to UAA because more than any other institution, UAA made a significant difference in the quality of my life. I had excellent experiences in many departments but the English department faculty in particular constantly demonstrated that they cared about my academic development. This improved my self-confidence tremendously. My degree paved the way to a law degree from Columbia University and a satisfying professional life. And in the bargain, the people and ideas I encountered at UAA enriched my personal and intellectual life beyond measure. Also, participating in the 1998 through 2001 Pacific Rim Literary Conferences was so rewarding that any contribution I can make seems small next to the benefit I received."

Moore says, "Katherine has such a vibrant personality, and even though she feels like we gave a lot to her, she has given us so much more back. It makes your whole career worthwhile when you get a student like that."

Katherine works as a transactional attorney in New York a half block away from Wall Street at Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, a firm with a national reputation for excellence in the financial and corporate areas. She says, "I like it and work with great people, so I see myself doing it for the foreseeable future."

Katherine lives in Brooklyn with a new Sheltie puppy named Jackson and her boyfriend, Chris, a 23-year veteran of the Anchorage Fire Department. She bikes to work every day over the Brooklyn Bridge. And just as she appreciated the strikingly breathtaking views in Alaska, she also finds wonder in the cityscape. Every time, she still thinks, "I'm riding across the Brooklyn Bridge!"

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