Andreas Jeninga/The Hoya Kate Hard (COL ’04)

It is often tough to be a transfer student, but Kate Hard (COL ’04), who transferred to Georgetown at the beginning of her junior year, has taken the transition in stride.

Hard has taken her shortened time at Georgetown and turned it into a blessing. She’s the founder and president of Georgetown Active Minds, Georgetown’s only student-led organization dedicated primarily to raising awareness about mental health.

Last week, USA Today announced that Hard placed on the second team of the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team, which was announced last week. Only 60 undergraduates nationwide were selected for this prestigious honor.

“I’m very flattered and the work I’ve done here has been reward enough for me but it’s really nice to be recognized,” she said.

But Active Minds _ which changed its name from Open Minds in late 2003 _ has been Hard’s most cherished activity at Georgetown.

“I think mental illness is an issue people deal with in their family and friends but don’t talk about,” she says.

When Hard first arrived on campus in 2002, there was no student-led organization to confront the mental health issues that many students face during their college years.

“Very little outreach is done on college campuses for such a significant problem,” she says. “And it may be a special issue at more competitive schools like Georgetown because there’s so much pressure.”

At the beginning Hard was almost completely alone in her drive to bring a mental health awareness organization on campus. She remembers sitting at the SAC Fair in 2002 with only a poster about the organization she wanted to start.

But Hard has developed Active Minds into a major on-campus force. The organization has brought big name speakers to campus and has been a major player in raising awareness about mental illness. Active Minds has continued its activism this semester and is hosting a national conference at Georgetown from March 26th to arch 28th. It is also sponsoring a 5K run on March 28th.

By all accounts, Hard has had a very successful two years at Georgetown and her closest friends aren’t surprised.

“Kate’s a great person with a huge heart and she’s very goal-oriented so her achievements don’t surprise me at all,” Kelsey Rae Smith (COL ’05), an Active Minds member and the organization’s president-elect, said. “She started something that didn’t exist. It takes a lot of guts to start something new where you know no one.”

Allison Malmon, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, a close personal friend and the national founder of Active Minds says Hard deserves to be an Academic All-star.

“She’s done superbly well academically and started a big group on campus,” she said. “Nobody deserves it more. I think if Kate hadn’t started the chapter at Georgetown, there might not be a national organization. She has contributed so much.”

Although she will no longer be leading the Georgetown chapter of Active Minds, Hard is proud of what she has accomplished and sees a bright future for the organization.

“Active Minds has been the defining part of my Georgetown experience,” she said. “Hopefully it’s a mark I’ve left here, but more important to me is that it’s here to stay.”

Hard, a Potomac, Md., native, does not have firm plans for the future. One thing she is sure of is that she wants to take a year off to volunteer before starting graduate school.

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