Student helps fellow UK members capture life through journaling

Will Wright

From the efforts of one UK student, there will be at least one day on campus that will not be forgotten.

Biology sophomore Katherine Stockham has journaled her entire life and wanted her fellow students to “capture the moment.”

She created “A Day at UK,” a compilation of journal entries by UK students, staff and faculty journaled about their day on Oct. 15. Almost 40 anonymous contributors wrote about everything from their daily routine, to what they thought people should know about UK students.

Some wrote in list form, some wrote in free-verse poetry, and some wrote long form stories.

“(I thought), ‘You probably can’t inspire people to journal long term, but what if you got people to do it for a day?’” Stockham said. “I want people to have something to hold onto from today.”

Stockham has seen the power of journaling firsthand. Her four times great-grandfather, who fought in the American Civil War, journaled during the 1860s. He was a blacksmith and once wrote about rumors of Lincoln’s death.

Now, Stockham has a trunk in her room full of journals dating back to preschool. The older the journals, the more silly the entries. What started off as scribbles and drawings turned into a lifelong hobby, allowing her to remember little details about her day that would otherwise be forgotten.

Journaling even won Stockham a trip to Yellowstone National Park, paid for by the Journal Journey Program at UK.

The program matches students with professors, who go over the student’s journal entries during the school year. Normally, the journals deal with the students’ academic career or professional ambitions.

“Journaling is a great way to get your head space clear,” said Heather Nan Carpenter, and adviser and the director of the honors residential college. “If you journal it out, often times, it’s kind of like your own therapist.”

Writing about thoughts, worries and emotions can act as a form of meditation, Carpenter said, and can pull students out of anxiety or procrastination.

Professors also benefit from the Journal Journey Program. Carpenter said professors can learn better ways to teach, but also enjoy talking with enthusiastic students who are growing into adulthood.

Not everybody who enters the Journal Journey Program goes on a trip, but the program does offer travel scholarships to some students like Stockham, who excel and “make a good case,” Carpenter said.

To Stockham, the purpose of journaling can depend on the day. Stockham said sometimes she writes out of habit, and other times she writes because she feels like it is almost a responsibility.

“I think more than anything, what I want is to keep a day,” Stockham said. “It’s like a compulsive need for me to not lose time.”

Many of the contributors to “A Day at UK” enjoyed seeing what other people journaled about more than journaling themselves. Stockham said she particularly enjoyed the shorter journals and the writing in the section “What You Should Know About Us.”

The book is broken into three sections: “Daily Routine,” “Thoughts and Feelings,” and “What You Should Know About Us.”

Stockham said she will consider creating another “A Day at UK,” in hopes of saving another day.