Skip to main content

Caldwell Fellows Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Katherine Drake Stowe `09

The Caldwell Fellows Program highlights the work of Dr. Katherine Drake Stowe, Caldwell Class of 2009 and the current president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Katherine Drake Stowe headshot
Katherine Drake Stowe '09. President of the NC State Alumni Association Board of Directors. Photo by Ken Martin.

CFs: Katherine, thanks so much for taking time to chat with us. To get us started, can you remind us what your degrees are? 

KDS: Sure thing. I graduated in 2009 with a degree in Polymer & Color Chemistry from the Wilson College of Textiles. Then I completed an MS in Crop Sciences in 2012 and in 2016 I completed a  Ph.D. in Crop Science.  

CFs: That’s awesome. Sounds like a lot of hard work in a very important field (no pun intended). Would you tell us, what does being a Caldwell Fellows alumna mean to you?

KDS: For me, being a Caldwell Fellows alum means I’m part of a legacy of amazing individuals, doing amazing things and that drives me to be better and to do better. When I think about the fact that someone believed in me enough to invest in me as a student, I know they were investing in the future. I see that as a great responsibility to make sure I give my all every day to make sure I’m living up to ther investment that was made in me.

CFs: What’s the saying? “With great privilege comes great responsibility.” It sounds like you are living that. What were some key lessons you integrated from your time as a Caldwell Fellow?

KDS: I really appreciate the beauty of different people, perspectives, and cultures. Hearing and being around people that think differently than you is such a gift. I’m constantly reminded that there is so much to be learned when we are willing to stop and listen to others. I also spend a significant amount of time approaching things by asking myself “how do you lead by serving others?” and “how do you bring out the best in others?”.

CFs: Yes! That ethos of servant leadership is at the core of so much that we do. How do those lessons resonate in the work you do now? What is your leadership philosophy in your work and service?

KDS: One of the things I’m responsible for is bringing different organizations and teams together to tackle a common problem. Because of that, I often think about the value different perspectives bring. My philosophy is that a leader doesn’t require a title or a specific position but works every day to help the people around them grow and develop to their fullest potential. Leadership is a lifestyle of serving, encouraging, and inspiring others.

CFs: What has been a challenging aspect of your career or life path? How did your experience as a Caldwell Fellow prepare you for that experience?

KDS: As an individual from a small, rural town in Eastern North Carolina, the Caldwell Fellows had a tremendous impact on my life. It exposed me to resources, ideas, opportunities, and relationships I would have never experienced. It moulded me as a leader and helped shape me into who I am today. It drove me to think about my place in this world and the impact I’m having on the lives of others. And still, today, seeing the remarkable things fellow alumni and current students are doing, inspires me to keep “thinking big”. I will be forever grateful for this program! 

CFs: It is so true. The impact of this program is palpable when we talk about it with our alumni. What advice would you give to current Caldwell Fellows about how to make the most of their time in the program?

KDS: I could give advice about building networks, making the most of their summers, or trying something new, but they’ve heard all that before. So I think my advice would be to remind them that someone believed in them enough to invest in them. People give to the Caldwell Fellows because they are investing in the lives of the next generation of world changers. That is a great privilege and responsibility for students and hopefully inspires them to keep “thinking big” and also “doing big”!

CFs: I love that! It’s like NC State’s “Think and Do” motto, but taking it a step further. Now, to wrap this interview up, do you mind sharing one unforgettable memory from your time in the program?

KDS: Traveling! I got to travel to the Dominican Republic, Thailand, and Mexico on Caldwell Fellows trips. Looking back, my best memories were of being pushed outside our comfort zones and seeing personal growth on the other side of the challenge.

CFs: Katherine, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. We are looking forward to hearing more about the great work you’ll be doing on the Alumni Association Board of Directors in the year ahead. Best of luck to you.