CAT NELSON: Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable


Each semester, the Centennial Student Union recognized eight outstanding students who excel as leaders in the campus community or within the CSU student staff. The BEST Board, the 55-foot display in the CSU Hearth Lounge, is a way of Boasting Exceptional Student Talent. This eight-part series offers a glimpse of each of those student leaders for Spring 2021.

Cat Nelson is a law enforcement and pre-law major from Eden Prairie, Minn. She is set to graduate in Spring 2021. In her nomination, Cat was recognized for:

  • Alpha Chi Omega, chapter president
  • Mavathon
  • Panhellenic Council, past president
  • Student Government Senator
  • Student Allocations Committee
  • 2019 Sorority Woman of the Year

In her nomination, Cat was recognized for her steady leadership. “Cat is a level-headed leader who takes a no-nonsense approach.  She is great at looking at the big picture and thinking about longer-term consequences of actions.  I admire this in her. “

Using your own experience, what advice for personal fulfillment and college enrichment would you offer to fellow students?

CATHERINE: “If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to say yes to things that push you outside of your comfort zone. As cheesy as it sounds, get involved. When you get to the end of your time at Minnesota State Mankato, you’ll be grateful for the memories.”

We often get asked, “How do I get on the BEST Board?” What do you think helped earn you your BEST Board distinction?

CATHERINE: “Starting my sophomore year, I became involved with Fraternity & Sorority Life, which in turn provided leadership opportunities for my chapter and the Panhellenic Council. I just finished serving as the President of Alpha Chi Omega, and I’m currently finishing out my term as an Off-Campus Senator with Student Government. Through these various leadership opportunities, I was able to build relationships with people from across campus and use my platform to try to represent my community in a positive light and make Minnesota State Mankato a better place.”

Why did you pick the quote used on the BEST Board? Please provide some background.

CATHERINE: “I chose my quote for the BEST Board by reflecting on my time at Minnesota State Mankato, especially on how much I’ve grown as a person since I came here in 2016. I was very quiet, introverted, and I kept to myself when I first came to college. Over the years, I’ve come out of my shell, I’ve made friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life, and I’ve been taught quite a few valuable life lessons along the way.”

What involvement or leadership experience at Minnesota State Mankato best defines you, your interests, or your proudest moment? 

CATHERINE: “I will always have a special place in my heart for my time spent on the Panhellenic council. I loved being able to work with such a strong, dedicated, and powerful group of women to help build on the foundation to make sorority life even better. I absolutely adored being President, but my true love was serving as the Vice President of Risk Management. I truly believe that my purpose on this earth is to help others and to keep them safe, and this position was a way to help my FSL brothers and sisters build the skills that would allow them to keep themselves safe, and to be their brother’s and sister’s keepers.”

Where do you hope to take your college education earned at Minnesota State Mankato (what are your career aspirations)?

CATHERINE: “After completing my Bachelors of Science in Law Enforcement with a minor in Political Science, I will be attending law school for civil rights and criminal law. My dream is to work for the NAACP or the Equal Justice Initiative advocating for equality and proper treatment in the medical system.”

What words of wisdom would you share in these unusual times?

CATHERINE: “Wear your mask, wash your hands, and don’t be dumb. We’re all adults, and we all have a duty to protect public health. I promise you, the “college experience” will come back a lot faster if we all do our part to keep each other safe.”


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