“…it taught me that real drive and work ethic is going to produce results. “
Activities: Lacrosse, Basketball, Soccer, HIIT, Weight training
Social Media: IG:@ktcakes10
Career: Law Enforcement
I first met Katherine (Katie) in a group fitness class I created and taught called “Tread and Shred.” A friend and colleague of hers had been taking the class religiously for quite some time and recommended it to her. My first impression of Katie was, she was super friendly. She struck me as someone who “never met a stranger.” She appeared to be in great physical shape, but I wondered what she would bring to the table, cardiovascularly. Tread and Shred was an intense interval training class that incorporated the use of a treadmill and weights. Many would try it, and the die hards, became regulars, and Katie did. Always willing to push herself a little harder, she welcomed any challenge I threw at her. Whether it was sprinting up hill at an incline of 12, or jogging backwards holding weights, she did it, with no complaints and looked for more. She, like her colleague and several others, became another person I looked forward to having in class. They all pushed me to be a better instructor by finding new ways to challenge them.
When I think about that class and what Katie brought to it every time she showed up, I understand it even more now having had the opportunity to interview her for this blog. I hope you enjoy reading this interview, because it reiterates what most of us know, having a strong work ethic, shapes your entire life.
Q: What was life like growing up in Chicago? Did you enjoy your childhood
Growing up in Chicago was amazing, it’s my favorite city in the world! I was very lucky to have the greatest parents because they supported everything I did (even if it seemed ridiculous). They also pushed me very hard when it came to academics and athletics, so I grew up with a very strong sense of dedication and work ethic.
Q: Do you have any siblings? If so, were you close as kids?
I have one younger sister. We fought a lot growing up because we are so different and that caused a lot of contention, but we are much closer now.
Q: How did you like to spend your free time as a child?
As a child I was pretty much ALWAYS playing sports, specifically basketball and soccer. I literally thought I was going to be in the WNBA. I was on my school teams, travel teams, and was always practicing and training outside of organized games/practices. My friends thought I was crazy.
Q: When did you start playing organized sports?
I started playing basketball and soccer when I was 4 years old.
Q: Do you feel playing sports shaped you in any way?
I can confidently say that I would not even be close to the person I am today without organized sports. Not only did it give me a better idea of what my body could do and the strengths I had, but more than anything, it challenged me mentally. It taught me how to win and how to lose, how to think more about the successes of the team than my own, and it taught me that real drive and work ethic is going to produce results.
Q: Where did you go to college? Did you play collegiate, intramural, or club sports?
I went to Columbia University in New York City. I played Division 1 lacrosse, primarily as an Attacker.
Q: You work in law enforcement. What department do you work in and what career steps did you
take to get there?
I’m currently a Special Agent in the New York City office. I work on a surveillance squad as a new agent rotation position, but I hope to return back to the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). I was a Honors Intern my summer going into senior year of college. Following graduation in 2015 I transitioned into a full time analyst position where I worked Counterintelligence and Counterterrorism for 4 1/2 years. I went to Virginia for Special Agent training in October 2019 and graduated in March 2020.
Q: Why did you choose this branch of law enforcement and not another branch?
My grandfather was also a Special Agent in New York in the 1950’s. Growing up I had always been extremely humbled by his stories and words. He has always been motivated by a love for this country. That being said, I think I just had the love for this agency instilled in me from the beginning. While there are other very noble agencies, I had a very personal connection and drive towards this one, and what they stand for.
Q: Talk about the conditioning you had to go through to become an agent?
A lot went into my physical preparation to become an agent, including: extensive HIIT training, boxing, weight lifting, distance running, and yoga. I wanted to make sure I was strong in many ways and in all areas of my body, so I made sure to maintain a very diverse training plan. As agents we do have to pass a Physical Fitness Test which includes: push-ups, sit-ups, a 300 m timed sprint, and a 1.5 mile timed run. Based on how well you do in each category, you receive points, and there is a minimum total score you have to earn to pass. Most of my training focused around being successful at the fitness test, but it wasn’t a huge struggle for me so I was able to focus on every aspect of training.
Q: What is the fitness expectation once you get hired and have been there for years?
Special Agents are required to pass the structured fitness test once a year, but otherwise you can maintain whatever fitness regimen that suits you.
Q: Are you on a strict dietary regimen?
For most of my life I have maintained a pretty “clean” eating program….a lot of vegetables, whole grains, seafood, lean meats for the most part. However, I love to cook and I LOVE food, so I definitely don’t prevent myself from eating certain foods if I want them. I’m a big fan of the 80/20 rule: 80% of the week I eat food that is naturally good for my body and will improve my training, and the other 20% I have fun and give in to my cravings and just eat for my soul! I have also dedicated a fair amount of my life studying food, nutrition, and culinary practices so I never ever sacrifice flavor for health….you can have both!
Q: What was your workout routine, before quarantine, and how has it changed?
My fitness routine has always been very diverse, so in that sense it hasn’t changed much, but before becoming an agent I would say I did a lot more cardio assuming that was the best way to “be in shape”. Playing lacrosse required me to be very fast and have a lot of endurance, so to my coach that meant running as much and as far as possible. Now I definitely put a lot more focus in weight training and interval training, and I am definitely now a much better all around athlete.
Q: Your schedule can be very busy at times, how do you stick with your fitness training?
Fitness has always been a huge priority for me, and without it I literally could not survive. My job is very demanding and assignments/tasks can come out of nowhere, but I make sure to plan my workouts ahead for the week and stick to them or do whatever I can to fit them into my schedule. Exercising keeps my energy and metabolism moving, makes me feel less groggy when sitting at a desk, and is genuinely the one time of the day where I can put 100% effort and time into myself.
Q: Is the agency a “good ol’ boys” club? What are the opportunities for women in growth?
The agency has always been a heavily male organization, but the increase in women analysts and agents has been fantastic. You only need a few good female agents and role models within an organization like this to pave the way for more of the same. Women have the same opportunities as men in the agency, but I would say we definitely have to work harder to prove that we are on the same playing field and can accomplish the same things the men can. To be completely honest, that doesn’t bother me, and it actually motivates me more. I am completely satisfied with taking on the challenge of proving myself to whoever and wherever I need to. I welcome it!
Q: Do you see the face of the agency changing to embrace more women, blacks and people of
color in our lifetime?
I think it is definitely moving in that direction. Based on the changes I’ve seen in the last 5 years, I think it’s only going to become more diverse. I also think it’s imperative that it becomes more diverse. We have learned recently the impact diversity has on a community (big or small) and it can only mean positive growth for the agency to channel that.
Q: What advice would you give a young girl aspiring to be on law enforcement ?
DO NOT GIVE UP! There are going to be a million and one reasons to not do something, but if it is ingrained in you just keep going. The government is very interesting because most of your job is out of your control at the end of the day, but our 24/7 job is to protect the American people and prevent harm which I feel like I have a true calling to do. There are few jobs in this world where you wake up everyday knowing that everything you do matters not only to your success but the success of the country and its people…..that is an extremely special feeling.
Q: Why did you agree to be a part of MCBMI?
I decided to be a part of MCBMI because I genuinely think my motivation to be active and my experience as an athlete paved the way for my entire life to fall into place. Being an athlete and developing the strict dedication to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a smaller representation of how I live the rest of my life — motivated, relentless, head held high. For Viveca to be creating this blog is a HUGE step for young women to be able to talk to other women that have lived a similar lifestyle and have achieved a lot because of that lifestyle. Women have to support women in all aspects, and I think a great place to start is health and fitness. Also, Viveca is one of those amazing women I admire on a daily basis. She’s a no BS kind of gal who wants nothing but to push you and make you better while being so respectful and kind. She’s one of a kind!
*Follow MCBMI on IG @MCBMI Starting this week, I will start posting information on live chats I will host on IG with the women I interview, recipes for some of their favorite healthy snacks and meals and some of their favorite exercises and much more!