In the time Katherine Kurata ’19 studied at Gettysburg College, she was always a very active student. She worked for Dining Services as an office assistant, took part in several student groups, and served as the Class of 2019’s vice president. Kurata was also vice president for Delta Gamma sorority and a member of both the Bullets Cheer team and the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society. In addition to her impressive list of extracurriculars, Kurata was a dedicated participant in several Eisenhower Institute programs, through which she focused her studies on critical global issues.
Through the Institute, Kurata explored a wide range of political, social, and cultural topics. In spring 2019, she participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Women and Leadership program. In this program, she honed in on the intersections between gender and leadership in government, business, law, science, and more. She later looked at contemporary civil rights issues through the Institute’s Inside Civil Rights program. She also participated in Inside Politics, the predecessor to the Institute's Washington Connections program. As a senior, she was selected as an Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellow, through which she and her peers developed their leadership skills and advanced their knowledge and understanding of public policy issues.
In October 2018, she was one of three student delegates from Gettysburg College nominated by Susan Eisenhower to attend the United States Military Academy’s 70th annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) at West Point. Together with other attendees, Kurata wrote and presented a policy paper regarding the future of U.S.-China relations.
Throughout her education, Kurata has studied abroad extensively. In 2014, she won a National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship through the State Department. As a result, she took part in an exchange program with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia. In 2017, she traveled to Shanghai where she attended Donghua University. During her time in Shanghai, Kurata proposed business development strategies for American and Chinese non-profit organizations as an intern for the Center of American States in China (CASC).
Since her graduation, Kurata has demonstrated leadership and passion. Her acts of service and her work in national security have made her an unstoppable force in the fight for good.
Following her time spent abroad, Kurata “knew I needed to serve my country somehow.” After leaving Gettysburg, she joined the Peace Corps to do just that. “It opened a lot of doors for me...which has definitely shaped what I’m doing now and what I’ll probably be doing in the future.”
After her time in the Peace Corps, Kurata served as a research intern for Democratic Resilience, where she looked at Russian disinformation campaigns and the Eastern European Caucuses. She investigated information flows from news outlets in Russia and various other countries and deciphered them in order to determine what disinformation bots and agencies were putting out. Kurata is currently with the Center for Strategic and International Studies as an iDeas Lab data intern, where she is focusing on China. She says that she is using qualitative skills she has acquired to conduct more quantitative based research.
Kurata is also a graduate student at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, with her work so far looking at the supply chain for disinformation in Eastern Europe and using trade and economic tools to track supply and demand. After graduation, she would like to work either for the federal government or at a tech company where she can promote responsible artificial intelligence and user interface services to ensure that people are protected using technology that “doesn’t discriminate against certain groups of people.”
Katherine Kurata says that her time at the College and the Institute had a significant impact on her career path. “Being at Gettysburg started me with a lot of people who are very passionate about different areas of expertise.” It inspired her, she said, “Which is definitely what contributed to me majoring in International Affairs and Political Science and then going abroad to work in the Peace Corps.”
Meeting people at Gettysburg College and the Eisenhower Institute, she explained, led her to look at “different multidisciplinary activities that I normally wouldn’t have done on my own, and it also really showed me how to make a difference in the world.”
The Eisenhower Institute promotes nonpartisan discourse and critical analysis of issues of long-term importance through a variety of initiatives, including its undergraduate programs, which are led by expert scholars and practitioners in areas ranging from strategic leadership and environmental policy to civil rights and the Middle East. These programs enhance students’ academic experience at Gettysburg College by providing practical connections to topics of policy study.
By Emma Canfora '23
Photos courtesy of Katie Kurata '19