Passion for Service Guides a Veteran to a Life in Social Work
The spark that lights the flame of passion for a life in
social work can come from many sources. For Taylor Katt, who is
studying social work in the University of Cincinnati (UC) College
of Allied Health Sciences (CAHS), his sparks came from a mission
trip to Mexico, studying to be a minister, serving as a military
policeman in Iraq, and love.
Katt’s path to pursuing a life in social work took a few
twists and turns after he graduated from Campbell County High
school in Alexandria, Kentucky in 2009. His first stop was
Matehuala, Mexico on a mission trip with a friend, working for a
local doctor providing basic medical services to the
Two months into his stay in Mexico, he received an email
letting him know his grandfather had died of acute leukemia so he
returned home to Kentucky. Shortly after his grandfather’s
funeral, he got accepted into Cincinnati Christian University
(CCU), enrolling in the general ministry program, but that pursuit
didn’t last long.
"Within a week at CCU, I switched to the psychology program,
where the professor had a heart for ministry through the route of
psychology,” Katt says. "That was very interesting to me
because I had always thought that if you want to do ministry,
it’s a vocation and an occupational desire.”
The idea of studying psychology at CCU quickly clashed with
the reality of being able to afford it, so in January of 2010, Katt
visited an Army National Guard recruiting office in Northern
Kentucky hoping to continue to find a way to serve his fellow man
while saving money for college.
"It’s always been my desire to help people out no matter
what I was going to do,” Katt says. "I’m physically
fit, I’m not Albert Einstein, so I’m not going to
invent anything in my mind. Whether it’s labor, whether
it’s protecting people in some fashion, serving people was
always the mindset.”
Katt chose to enlist with the military police (MP), finding
that more interesting than his other option of being a bulldozer
operator. Nine weeks of basic training at Fort Leonard Wood,
Missouri was followed by 14 weeks of MP school.
"About three or four weeks before graduating from MP school, I
caught wind that our unit was going to be deployed,” Katt
says. "My thought process was I wouldn’t have joined the
military if I wasn’t going to deploy. Joining the National
Guard wasn’t just for the benefit of earning money for
college, it was more about the service.”
In June of 2011, his unit, the 940th Military Police Company
based in Walton, Kentucky, was deployed to Iraq. Katt says their
work at Victory Base Camp near the Baghdad International Airport
was mostly routine.
"We did very little law and order military policing,”
Katt says. "What we did was mostly gate security, and searching
folks. There were local truck drivers who did deliveries to the
base at times, and every now and then we would rotate where they
were staying and search their trailers and trucks just to keep them
on their toes and make sure they didn’t get comfortable being
However, part of that daily routine was the enemy launching
mortars at their position.
"We were very blessed, my unit didn’t get shot at, but
we did regularly get mortared,” he says. "You’re
sitting on base and all of the sudden you hear this alarm go off
and that means people are lobbing explosives over your fence.
Usually we deflected them one way or another, we had some pretty
cool machinery that was able to do that. There were a couple of
times where the camp next to us had a couple of buildings get blown
up, but no one was in them thankfully.”
Katt’s reaction to the daily mortaring is thoughtful and
gives some insight into his passion for social work.
"My thought process was if we’re going to respond to
these people we need to better understand why they’re doing
it,” Katt says. "What’s going on with them? Why is this
guy choosing to mortar us? We had full legal authority to respond
with lethal force, why is he taking this risk?”
His National Guard unit returned to the United States in
December of 2011 and after spending about a year working for a
couple of logistics companies in the Tristate, Katt took a
full-time inactive duty position with the National Guard while
taking some online classes to keep his social work dream
CAHS played a role in the next chapter in his journey when in
December 2014, a friend from high school who was in the Speech
Language Pathology (SLP) Program in the Department of Communication
Sciences and Disorders introduced him to another SLP student,
Megan. Katt says they knew right away they were a good match and
they got married in May 2016.
Megan Katt is a speech language pathologist with Cincinnati
Public Schools, working at Rockdale Elementary in Avondale. Taylor
Katt hopes to finish his bachelor of social work degree in CAHS in
the fall of 2017 and start work on his master of social work in the
fall of 2018.
"There are a couple of things that have been in my heart
lately,” Katt says. "My grandmother had dementia and
Alzheimer’s as have some other people in my life, and
I’m really interested not just with the person who has
Alzheimer’s or dementia, but also the caregivers.
There’s a lot of research going on these days with the people
who are the caregivers not getting the care they need and taking
care of themselves.”
Katt is also passionate about working with veterans and people
suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Ordinary folks fascinate me,” Katt says. "To me,
that’s the coolest thing about the military. As extraordinary
as the military is, it’s full of very ordinary people.
That’s what’s so intriguing about social work for
me—it’s just understanding people’s story, how
they got to where they are and where they’re