Campus Celebrity: Katie Krol

Katie Krol



Age: 19          

Year: Sophomore

Major: Communication, minor in Business Administration 

Position at Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation: Campus Ambassador

HC: When did you begin your internship for Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation?

Katie: Over the summer, the organization flew me and 100 other campus ambassadors to their headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida. I spent the weekend there learning about bone marrow and stem cell transplants, how to run drives, and meeting other college students from every state in the U.S. My internship will be for the academic school year and my job is to get hundreds of cheek swabs and raise money for the foundation. 

HC: How did you become involved with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation?

Katie:  I actually was just looking for internships online and this one in particular caught my eye. I chose to apply to this one because I loved the idea of having a rewarding internship where I'm actually helping others and potentially saving lives. That's what keeps me motivated, the fact that the work I'm putting into this isn't going to waste at all. 

HC: What does the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation do?

Katie:  The Gift of Life Foundation is a nonprofit bone marrow and stem cell transplant organization. It is one of the only organizations of its kind that was founded by an actual bone marrow recipient, Jay Feinberg. His story is very interesting, Google him! At Gift of Life, we run drive events to swab cheeks and raise money to have the cheek swab kits tested, in the hopes of finding a match for a patient dying of blood cancers and diseases like lymphoma or leukemia. 

HC: What is a cheek swab and how does it work?

Katie: Originally to find out if you were a match for someone you'd have to get blood drawn, which isn't the most convenient or quickest way. Thankfully, since then we have advanced the process by simply swabbing the inside of your cheek! The whole process of swabbing your cheek and filling out your information takes 1-2 minutes. What this does is collect the cells in your cheek, which will be sent to the lab, entered into the worldwide registry, and hopefully be a match for someone! Also, by swabbing your cheek you don't have to donate bone marrow or stem cells, you always have the choice, no matter what. More than half the time the process just requires you to donate through giving blood, easy! 

HC: Has the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation inspired you since you began your internship?

Katie: When I spent the weekend in Florida with the founder of the organization, the dedicated workers, and the soon to be campus ambassadors, I became SO inspired. Everyone working there is so passionate about the cause and in fact, my boss got involved with the organization after he got swabbed at his college and eventually ended up being a match for woman and saved her life. The people working for the Gift of Life were so genuinely thankful for us campus ambassadors; it made me feel very important! 


HC: Did you become involved with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation because of your major or because you wanted to?

Katie:  I get this question a lot! Once I tell people about my internship with Gift of Life they assume I'm a pre-med student or interested in the field, but actually, it has nothing to do with my major. This internship isn't just for future nurses or health care professionals, it's for anyone wanting to learn how to organize events, fundraise, and pretty much be an "entrepreneur" at your college campus, all of which I enjoy doing. 

HC: What events does the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation host?

Katie:  I'll be hosting many events throughout the school year; my next drive will be September 19th (National Bone Marrow Day) at the UIC rec center from 2-6pm! Stop by to get your cheek swabbed, free giveaways and some motivation to actually workout since you're already at the gym! If you want to help me in any way email me at [email protected] and follow us on Instagram: Gift_of_life_uic and like our Facebook page: Campus Ambassador Program-UIC.

HC: What has been your favorite moment so far during your internship?

Katie:  I have so many already, but my absolute favorite was meeting this little girl, Sami, who is suffering from a rare blood disease and needs a transplant in order to live past the age of 28. She had so much energy and was so happy; you'd never guess that was suffering from such a terrible disease. She was wearing cowboy boots and a tutu, showing off her bold personality. Meeting Sami made me even more motivated to get as many swabs as I can to possibly find a match for her! 

HC: Would you recommend this internship to anyone?

Katie: Absolutely! I'm only a couple weeks in and I already feel like I'm making a difference. It's so rewarding and honestly, I'll remember my experience with Gift of Life for the rest of my life.