Katie Byrnes

I learned I was more capable than I ever expected and that the world is much bigger and more interesting than I thought it was.

Katie Byrnes BS '79



Degree and Class Year

BS ’79

Current City

Portland, Oregon


Elementary Education

Overseas study


What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Engaging, Challenging, Friendly

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

The highly ranked education department. I knew I wanted to be a teacher before I attended L&C! I was also interested in their overseas and off-campus programs. Lastly, I thought the rain in Portland would be like the rain in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where I grew up. I was expecting high desert rain with horizontal lightning and everything smelling wonderful. I was not expecting weeks of rain and gray clouds!

How do you describe the liberal arts?

The liberal arts involves learning about a wide range of subjects, how to do research, and stepping outside of your comfort zone to try something new.

How did you select your major?

I had wanted to be an elementary education teacher since my first year of high school.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your career?

I was in a classroom learning about how to teach from the second half of sophomore year through to graduation. My senior year was spent student teaching and I appreciated having a Lewis & Clark professor mentor me during that year. I learned so much about classroom management, curriculum, and instilling the love of learning to my students. Teaching has been my lifelong passion!

What would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

I was on the L&C overseas program in Turkey. On the first night in my homestay, the leftist and rightist students opened fire on each other at the University across the street. It was the most scared I have ever been! I survived, and even thrived, in Turkey. I learned I was more capable than I ever expected and that the world is much bigger and more interesting than I thought it was. It gave me confidence and the knowledge that we, as humans, are more similar than we are different.

What’s your favorite part or most memorable experience of serving on the Board of Alumni?

I most enjoy interacting and providing mentorship to current students! It is wonderful to know that the students today are intelligent, kind, and engaged.

How do you encourage other alumni to give back to the college?

I am on the Philanthropy Council and reach out to classmates to encourage them to donate. I have also enjoyed planning our reunion dinners!