As a kid growing up in Fresno, Katelyn Spencer was always drawing. She grew up watching Spiderman, the original X-Men, and other anime on television at the time, so it was natural for her to mimic those styles.
“I thought I was going to be some sort of comic book artist!”
She graduated from Central High School, and as her tastes matured, she became interested in the human body and capturing the lines of the figure. Following her passion, she received her associate’s degree in art from Fresno City College and transferred to Fresno State, where she met Professor Stephanie Ryan and was enamored with her style.
Spencer explained, “Her approach to multimedia art and representation really impacted some of my more creative drawings as a senior year student. The way she was able to represent the human figure continues to amaze me every time I see it.”
As her work evolved, she began to move beyond the lines and the form and focused on capturing a point in time – a gesture, a moment in people’s lives. Her senior year, she was thrilled to learn one of her figure drawings was selected for the Senior Art Show.
“It was really satisfying to see something that I worked hard on be recognized at a gallery show,” Spencer said.
After graduating with a B.A. in Painting and Drawing, she became an administrative assistant in the Office of Planning Giving at Fresno State. Through that position, Spencer found she wanted to learn more about the world of higher education and enrolled in the Higher Education Administration and Leadership (HEAL) graduate program in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development. Her experience didn’t disappoint.
“I’ve always had a narrow perspective of what college life was like from a University Advancement lens, so this opportunity opened my world up to fully understanding how my work can impact students,” said Spencer. “It also spurred my interest in finding ways that I can support LGBTQ+ students on college campuses and what programming could be done both internally and in the community.”
That passion has continued with her involvement in the Rainbow Alumnx and Allies Club through the Fresno State Alumni Association. She was recruited as secretary for the club in 2019 and is now serving her second term as president.
In her position in the planned giving office, Spencer has had the opportunity to see the impact of giving on the students and programs they fund and the donors themselves. Part of her job is to make sure a donor’s gift supports their passion through directly funding programs or scholarships for students.
“I have met so many gracious individuals who see the importance of leaving a legacy for our students.”
That experience caused her to think about giving back to the place she found her inspiration – the College of Arts and Humanities – and through the Dean’s Council Annual Fund, she found a way to make an impact.
“I am thankful for the direction that the College of Arts and Humanities has taken and making the push to show that the arts and humanities are a driving force for our society and adds a splash of color to our lives!”
Spencer is a founding member of the G.O.L.D. (Graduates of the Last Decade) Committee. Working in tandem with the College of Arts and Humanities Advisory Board, the group represents alumni voices and works to advocate for the needs and concerns of alumni as well as encourage alumni support for the college through volunteer activities, philanthropic giving, and attending events. Through her work on the G.O.L.D. Committee, she expanded her impact by connecting with younger alumnx and inviting them to attend events in the College of Arts and Humanities.
Dean Honora Chapman has expressed gratitude for Spencer’s leadership, “We are so happy that Katelyn joined G.O.L.D. at the beginning, as she has helped forge a vision for inspiring young graduates to reconnect with the college and to provide support for current students. Fresno State is certainly stronger as a community thanks to Katelyn.”
Spencer is also a G.O.L.D. Dean’s Council member, a program that enables recent alumni to support the college through membership for as little as $10 per month. Spencer says what drew her to the Dean’s Council is the funding is applied to a wide range of uses across different majors and programs.
“As an art student, I couldn’t tell you how much money I spent on supplies,” she recalls. “I love knowing that I am supporting the endeavors of our current students, especially for those who may be struggling to stay in college due to costs.”
With many people giving a small amount to fund the Dean’s Council scholarship endowment, help with the needs of students to maximize their educational experience and provide faculty development opportunities, those small amounts add up to make a big difference.
“Even if my support is minimal in comparison to some gifts before mine, I know that just by being willing to donate a little bit can be what keeps a student in the classroom and achieving their dream of a higher education.”