Freshman Courtney Cataudella dedicated to travel, service and creating own opportunities

Clichés remind us to “take the bull by its horns” and to “live life to the fullest.” Freshman Courtney Cataudella doesn’t need to listen to these dry idioms. Instead – through hard work and self-confidence – she lives them.

Cataudella said she found her passion to become an international adoption lawyer during a month-long stay in China. She chose to attend Geneseo as the first step toward achieving her dream after graduating from an all-girls Catholic preparatory school in Buffalo, N.Y.

In sixth grade Cataudella heard about the opportunity to travel to China through an organization called United Methodists Peace Initiative. After six years of begging her parents to let her go, Cataudella made the trip in her senior year of high school.

Cataudella’s adventures in China included visiting seminaries and teaching high school English classes. She said the best thing she did in China was visit a home for children of prisoners who, according to Chinese adoption law, could never be adopted.

“That [visit] was kind of amazing in a very heart-wrenching, awful way,” Cataudella said.

“Seeing those little kids and knowing that there are other little kids – like hundreds and thousands of them – around the world that I could possibly help someday was very influential,” she said.

An international relations major hoping to add a minor in Spanish, a language she never studied before college, Cataudella continues to take strides toward her future aspirations while participating in activities she said she enjoys.

“Being at Geneseo has given me an opportunity to branch out and actually discover what I like doing and not just what I feel like I need to do to be successful in life,” she said.

Cataudella is currently a member of the Geneseo chapter of Brothers and Sisters in Christ and Geneseo Outing Club, and she is an assistant news editor for The Lamron. In the upcoming fall semester, she will take on the position of news editor for The Lamron, which she said was one of the goals she set for herself in college.

Cataudella recently demonstrated her knack for creating her own opportunities when she planned a two-week service trip to Nicaragua for the summer. Cataudella and a group of students she assembled from various East Coast schools will work together on a project that Cataudella has been raising money for since sixth grade.

Project Chacocente, a nonprofit service initiative, helps relocate Nicaraguan families from living conditions in garbage dumps to self-sustaining villages. Cataudella and her friends will work with villagers and volunteers from around the world to increase the quality of life in Nicaragua.

“It’s been on my bucket list for a really long time to work with [Project Chacocente] and to lead my own trip, so I sent out some Facebook messages to people I thought would be interested and just planned it,” Cataudella said.

Before her graduation in 2015, Cataudella said she aspires to become a member of the international relations and political science honor societies and also hopes to start a short-term study abroad program in collaboration with Project Chacocente. She said she also seeks to travel to Bali, Indonesia and backpack across Europe.

Cataudella’s goals seem to share one important aspect: her dedication to service.

“Things that you do for yourself are rewarding, but only to a point,” she said. “I always find that the best memories and the most fun that I’ve had has been in serving people that I care about and people that I come to care about.”