Karin Underwood

When she isn’t making waves with the Washington University in St. Louis Women’s Swim Team, Karin Underwood is making an even bigger splash in the Washington University and St. Louis communities. The ripple effect of her contributions will be sure to carry on long after she graduates this spring with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Karin chose to immerse herself in the St. Louis community in an effort to better understand local hunger and homelessness issues. As her knowledge grew, she provided leadership, wisdom and mentorship to newer student leaders.

Karin dove right in to co-curricular activities when she started college. As president of Washington University’s Feed St. Louis student group, she oversaw the group’s efforts to salvage and deliver leftover food from Dining Services. At the same time, she led the lengthy effort to become affiliated with the national Campus Kitchens Project. Thanks to Karin’s steadfast leadership, Campus Kitchen at Washington University is now a more impactful organization with efficient and high-quality food procurement from on- and off-campus sources, student cooking shifts and food delivery to clients at Shalom House, Our Lady’s Inn and youth involved in the Architecture School’s Alberti Program.

In addition to her dedication to local poverty-related issues, Karin is an avid athlete, bicyclist and outdoor enthusiast. She has a passion for public health and hopes to have an impact on public policy as it relates to prevention and health care in communities and businesses.

To Karin, the most important aspect of service is to meet a tangible need in the community by empowering people to empower themselves. Her experience as a respected student leader within Washington University and an active participant in the St. Louis community has given her the opportunity to explore what it means to serve as a leader, as a student and as a citizen.

One nominator summarizes Karin’s local impact: “When Karin speaks about the cause for which she is so enthusiastic, it is impossible not to share in her excitement. Her words ring with a sincerity that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s society…Karin is a leader in every sense of the word, yet she seeks neither accolades nor personal gratification in the projects she takes on.”