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Body Positive/EDEI intern reflects on past, looks forward to future

Fourth-year student Kathryn Reichel wanted to give back to the community who supported her during a difficult time at U.Va.

“The Women’s Center helped me recover from my eating disorder when I was a First-Year,” she said. “I took time off [...] I came back after I had recovered, and was like, ‘I need to give back to other people.’ That’s what kind of inspired me to start working here.”

Now in her third year as an intern in the Body Positive/Eating Disorders Education Initiative at the Women’s Center, she has not only gotten to know those interning, but a majority of the staff and many organizations and students in the University in her work.

She has recognized through all her experiences that “U.Va. is, by far, one of the most helpful and understanding places.”  Reichel specifically notes that the deans, the Women’s Center and the Counseling and Psychological Services have been helpful and understanding in many circumstances.

“They really want all the students to be as healthy as they can possibly be,” Reichel said. “And my experience with working with everyone, all across the University, has just been amazing. And I don’t think I would be as successful of a student without all their help.”

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 As the Body Positive/Eating Disorders Education Coordinator at the Women’s Center, Amy Chestnutt was one of the people who first interviewed Reichel for the internship position. Chestnutt has continued to work closely with her through the years, witnessing both personal and professional growth.

“[…] It has been a joy to watch her develop in all aspects of her life and be able to use her experiences and her knowledge to help others,” Chestnutt said. “And to do that in a smart way, in a planned, strategic way.”

Chestnutt has seen Reichel take her personal experiences, learn through training at the Women’s Center and combine this knowledge base to what she has gained in the classroom as student in the McIntire School of Commerce. Reichel is eager and enthusiastic in wanting to help others, setting a strong example among her peers.

“[…It is] just so fabulous to watch her use her experiences and her passion – because she really is one of the most passionate students and organized students I’ve ever worked with – and learn and absorb all the things we’re doing here and help us to create better outreach that is more likely to be helpful to her peers,” Chestnutt said. “To me is the pinnacle of what we can do[…]to have that kind of collaboration.”

As a senior intern, Reichel has had extensive experience with annual events that the Women’s Center sponsors in collaboration with the U.Va. Coalition of Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns, such as the upcoming Celebrate Every Body Week. In addition, she has facilitated numerous discussions on body image through the Reflections program at the Center and through conversations within Greek life.

This school year, Reichel increased her level of involvement with the Center by attending a summit related to strategic planning. She enjoyed the part of the summit in which she got to “[…] brainstorm our most memorable moments here and why the Women’s Center means so much to us.” When paired with Women’s Center Director Sharon Davie, Reichel felt inspired as she truly understood why Davie envisioned the Center in the first place.

Chestnutt continued to receive strategic input from Reichel after the summit and attributes her area of study as a reason for the evolving work in her internship.

“She has a very specific perspective and the more she learns about companies, and marketing,  and strategies and all those pieces, it influences our program[...]” Chestnutt said. “We use those techniques for social causes. It’s fun to have her go through a class, go through an experience, and then use the information to improve our work. And she also loves data and numbers.“

Reichel’s plans for after graduation are to move to New York City and work for KPMG, who has already given her a job offer. In addition, she plans to volunteer in her free time as a counselor for the National Eating Disorders Association. Reichel is grateful for her time at the Women’s Center and encourages other students to intern here.

“[…]the Women's Center has become my family,” Reichel said. “There is nowhere else on Grounds that I feel so welcomed, loved and cared for than when I walk through these doors. Yes, it's a lot of work, but there has never been a moment throughout the last three years that I have ever thought that the work wasn't worth it or that I wasn't appreciated for everything I did.”

By Agnes Filipowski

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