Student athlete and 2019 Miss Wildcat Katie Reed reflects on her College of Health Sciences/UK journey

There are two things you need to know about Katie Reed—a human health sciences major and University of Kentucky student athlete. One: softball is a significant part of her world, and two: she absolutely hated going to the dentist as a child. Number one hasn’t changed but the soon-to-be graduate’s opinions on dentistry are quite different. So different, in fact, that Reed now aspires to become a dentist herself. 

Reed, who played shortstop for the UK softball team, has always known she wanted to enter the medical field.  “I switched dentists during my freshman year of college, and when I went in for a six-month checkup, I began asking him questions and learning more about what he does and how he liked the profession,” she said.

It was the beginning of her road to dentistry. “I shadowed my dentist a couple times that summer, and then I shadowed a Kentucky softball alumni who worked at a private practice during the fall semester,” Reed continued. “I knew that being a dentist would be the perfect fit for my future career and personal goals.”

Dentistry wasn’t what initially brought her to UK, though. Reed was actually committed to play softball for the University of Louisville, but after a coaching change, she reopened her recruiting and UK’s Coach Lawson stepped up. “I chose UK because I would be playing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which is the top conference for Divison I softball. I also wanted to attend a university known for its programs of study in the medical field,” she added.

During her sophomore year, Reed quickly found her place in the human health sciences (HHS) major at the College of Health Sciences (CHS). “I switched into HHS because it offered a pre-dental track and in-depth knowledge into different areas of health care besides science,” she explained. “I thought that learning about the business, policy, interdisciplinary, management, and ethical aspects of health care would best prepare me for a future in the field. The CHS curriculum has definitely made me a more well-rounded candidate for professional school.”

Being a student athlete hasn’t been an easy path for Reed. In addition to her coursework, she juggles a busy athletic schedule with rigorous pre-dental work. “My time at UK has taught me the importance of time management and how to prioritize,” she said. “It’s given me the ability to be a part of a team, and to build relationships with people very different from me. This experience has molded me into a leader.”

In turn, others have recognized her outstanding leadership ability. Reed was recently named the 2019 Miss Wildcat during the UK Athletics CATSPY awards—an honor given to Wildcats who have represented all-around excellence in athletics, academic, character, and service during their UK athletic careers. She also picked up the mantle of 2019 Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and received a Legacy Award.

Her dual roles as student and athlete have opened up many opportunities to shine during her UK career. “Being a team captain has given me the opportunity to be a part of the UK Athletics Emerging Leaders program, a leadership development program for all team captains and future team leaders,” Reed said. “I’ve also served on the UK Athletics Student-Athlete Advisory Committee—advocating for student-athletes and ensuring that all UK student-athletes are provided a positive environment and the necessary resources to be successful during their time here at UK and beyond.”

But, it was a service-learning trip to Ethiopia with UK Athletics that further solidified her calling into the health professions. “My time in Ethiopia was amazing. It  was both heartbreaking and heartwarming and overall a life-changing experience for me,” she said. It also confirmed for me that I want to practice dentistry in underserved communities.”

After she graduates on May 3, Reed will play softball for the National Softball League and begin dentistry school at the University of Pittsburgh in the fall.

Reed said her time with the College of Health Sciences and as a student athlete is one she will never forget. “It’s taught me about life. It’s helped me become a well-rounded individual, how to use my passion to impact others, and has been the best and most challenging preparation for my future. These are memories I will cherish forever,” she said.