Before Katie Brauti was even 17, she set her sights on attending WSU. She toured campus with her older sister, Annie (’16 Comm.), and fell in love with WSU’s architectural beauty, the town, and rolling Palouse countryside. When her sister came home on a break and relayed how much fun she was having in Chef Jamie Callison’s culinary class, Brauti—a self-described “foodie”—couldn’t wait for the chance to take it herself. Her chance almost didn’t come.
DETERMINATION DEFEATS DEVASTATING INJURIES
In 2013, during her junior year at Lake Oswego High School, Brauti was in a car accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She was in a coma for five weeks, and doctors advised her heartbroken parents, Dave (’87 Bus. Admin.) and Trina (’87 Comm.), that she may never recover beyond a vegetative state.
“My husband said, ‘You don’t know Katie’s determination,’” says Trina. “We just wouldn’t settle for her not getting better.”
Brauti’s recovery began by relearning every stage of development since infancy. Six months later, she resumed high school part-time. Being ahead on credits, she finished her remaining classes and graduated on time, with her dream of attending WSU well within reach. “I wanted to stay on the path I had worked so hard for before my accident. I wanted to be a Coug!” she says.
COUGS HELPING COUGS
Today, Brauti is a WSU junior. One of her happiest moments was enrolling in Callison’s culinary fundamentals class. Callison met with Brauti and her family and “felt an immediate connection,” he says. “I was not going to limit Katie in any way unless there was a safety issue,” says Callison.
Having lost fine motor skills in her right hand and arm due to a cerebellar tremor, Brauti couldn’t chop food safely. Callison accommodated this by pairing her with Brittley Barrett, a hospitality business management student, who was honored to assist Brauti when necessary.
Noticing Brauti’s passion for cooking, Callison selected her to receive the 2016 Cutting Edge Award, which acknowledges a student’s outstanding drive and positive attitude. “Katie is always smiling, friendly, and thoughtful— everyone loves her. She showed us who we should be,” says Callison. “Nothing slows her down.”
Brauti received a set of high end kitchen knives and protective cutting gloves, generously donated by Lynn Carmichael (’73 Comp. Sci.), and his daughter Katrina Barone (’06 Bus. Admin.), owners of Hobart Sales and Service.
“I had missed making food so much. The no-cut gloves were a life-changer for me,” says Brauti. “Meeting the Carmichaels was humbling, and their caring for my situation left me speechless. I am so grateful to Chef, Brittley, the Carmichaels, and others at WSU who make this place so special and help me continue to heal.”
A member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, Brauti also has made the President’s Honor Roll. She studies human development and envisions a future working with young children and, of course, cooking.