Honor student and advocate for the LGBT community overcomes personal struggles

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Photo credit: Ashley Soley-Cerro, Contributing Reporter

Imagine just wrapping up an eight-hour school day just before 5 p.m., and the sun is beginning to set. You only have 15 minutes to ride your bicycle to work, five miles away, where you will be making smoothies at the local Jamba Juice until closing. Repeat this cycle, mix in attending various clubs and honors society meetings and visiting your mother, who is very sick. Imagine having the strength to ride your bike all the way to Van Nuys. Some might give up, but not Katherine McInerney.

McInerney is a 19-year-old psychology major, with a minor in religion and human sexuality.

Growing up, McInerney said she did not have a good relationship with her family and often dealt with depression. She said she saw hope when she began working the weekend she turned 16 years old at Pacific Theatres.

“My coworkers were like family, the theatre gave me a place to go, and the money I needed to get out,” McInerney said.

Working hard became McInerney’s way of life after her first job, she added. McInerney, now in her third year at CSUN, is a full-time student with a 3.6 GPA, who works full time at Jamba Juice.

In addition, McInerney is  part of the Blues Project at CSUN, a peer education volunteer program, where she gives lectures when professors allow her class time to teach students about depression and suicide.

She also does research with psychology Professor Dr. Lagana. She finds articles for Lagana’s graduate students and inputs data every week.

McInerney is also a part of two honors societies, the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS), which she must rank in the top 20 percent of her class to remain in, and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) where she attends meetings that trains her in goal setting and has team members to help her accomplish her goals.

She said she hopes to be a part of the International Honors Society in Psychology (Psi Chi) after this year.

McInerney said having a bad relationship with her family made her depressed growing up, but having the strength to work hard, save enough money to move out of the house before she was 18, and develop her own interests through school has saved her.

“It was difficult to have goals when I was younger because I was so depressed,” McInerney said. “I want to help others that feel that way now. It also seems like there is a stigma attached to talking about ones feelings. I hope I can help people to not feel ashamed or embarrassed about these things anymore.”

McInerney is now focusing on helping the LGBT community.

“I am not gay, but many of my close and best friends are,” McInerney said. “I saw first hand how difficult it was for many of them to talk about it or come out to friends and family.”

McInerney said she hopes to be a part of the Trevor Project soon, where she will be answering phone calls for a 24/7 hotline that is trying to end suicide in the LGBT community.

After graduation, McInerneysaid she hopes to attend the University of California, Berkeley for graduate school and eventually become a professor and traveling lecturer.

“I find happiness through keeping busy and helping others,” McInerney said. “That is my motivation for keeping up with a 40-hour work week, school, and everything else.”

Earlier this year, McInerneysaid she was dealt a heavy blow. Her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Now recovering from chemotherapy and in remission, McInerney said she has decided to continue showing support for her mother by participating in the 6th annual “Run for Her” 5K run on Nov. 14.

McInerney, among others, will raise awareness for ovarian cancer and raise funds for the Cedars-Sinai women’s cancer program.

“When you’re down, work your way up through working with your passions instead of running away from them,” McInerney said.