Story by Cristina Francisco | Photo Illustration by Lauren Wilson
This story is part of the series in print of Spark Issue #176 “Senior Profiles”
She grows excited and anxious as the day of Relay For Life, an event to raise money for cancer, comes closer and closer. When it finally comes and she is surrounded by her closest friends who are also volunteering in the event, she looks around her group; laughter reverberates through them all.
While Relay For Life may be a fun way of volunteering with friends, to some, it is a way to honor the loved ones in their lives who have been affected with cancer. East senior Katie Bishop has been participating in Relay for Life since her freshman year as a way to raise awareness for a cause that has affected her family.
Bishop was six years old when she lost her dad after he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. When her dad was diagnosed, she didn’t really know what was going on except that he was very sick and home all the time. Ann Bishop, Katie’s mom, describes this as a time when Katie became more reserved.
“During Katie’s elementary years, she became more and more quiet, keeping a lot of feelings to herself,” says Ann. “She became more of an introvert. Yet Katie pushed through this hard time with the support of family and friends, finding joy in helping others and doing her best in school.”
Katie has been doing Relay For Life since her freshman year and does it not only to honor her dad, but for her other family members that have suffered from cancer. This includes her grandma and cousin who are both cancer survivors.
In addition to the support from her friends and family during these times, Katie also turned to her Mormon religion for understanding, and it continues to have an impact on her life.
“There are times where I kind of don’t understand [some aspects of being Mormon] or I’m kind of confused about it,” says Katie. “The thing with my religion is that I feel like I have a lot of support and whenever I have those questions, I can always go to my leaders in my church, my family or my friends even.”
While her parents would take her to church and she was baptized into the Mormon faith, Katie says that continuing to be a Mormon is a choice that she has made personally. Even now, Ann sees how Katie’s decision to be part of the church has shaped her.
“Her membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has provided Katie with a strong sense of who she is and helps her to understand who she can become,” says Ann. “Katie has a charitable heart and strives to lift others around her. Katie seeks after high standards, which helps her be a good leader and example for those around her. Our religion not only helps foster a faith in Jesus Christ but also blesses our lives with faith, peace and security.”
Katie continues to become more involved with her church and the community. She has mass on Sundays, activities on Wednesday nights and seminary class every morning at 6:30 before school starts. While she is there, Katie studies the scripture and discusses gospel topics. It starts her day off on a “good note,” and while says she knows that most people see being Mormon as a lifestyle, Katie says that she feels that this is where she is supposed to be and how she is supposed to be living.
Young Women’s President of the Liberty Ward at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Megan Williams says that Katie is very involved in church. Besides going to church services on Sunday, she says that Katie has served the Young Women’s Church in different activities and programs.
“Katie believes in God and His plan for her in her life,” says Williams. “She makes good choices: be a good person, kind to others, hard working and dedicated.”
East senior Morgan Weyl, who is also a Mormon and attends the church activities with Katie, has seen the impact their religion has had on Katie.
“[Katie] is an example I look up to of how I want to be in the church,” says Weyl. “She motivates me to keep my standards and try to carry myself as well as she does. She knows God and feels His love for her in her life. You can definitely tell [Katie] has different standards than some people at our school and she sticks [to them.] For example, she doesn’t cuss, and a lot of people know that because when [they are] around her they apologize after they’ve said a word.”
Weyl adds that she notices that Katie is generally a happy person and that Katie’s involvement in the church and her beliefs really shine. Weyl says that, based on how Katie is living her life, one can see how truly happy and blessed she feels.
Katie will continue to extend her Mormon faith at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Idaho. She plans to get a major in business management with an emphasis in marketing. Leaving Ohio is exciting for Katie, but she is nervous about leaving behind her friends and her mom. However, Ann is excited for Katie to start a “new chapter in her life” and says that having her leave home is bittersweet.
“[Katie] will enjoy college, making new friends, visiting new places and learning many things,” Ann says. “She has some great life-long friends at East and will meet new friends in college that will soon become her family. I know she will have exciting adventures on her new journey at college.”