Kaitlin Kerl – Master’s Student in Architecture and Miss New Mexico 2022

Hard-working. Determined. Creative. These are three words that come to mind when describing Kaitlin Kerl, one of our fantastic Girls Inc. of Santa Fe volunteers. Driving to Santa Fe from her hometown of Albuquerque, she volunteers in addition to a full-time job, schoolwork, and preparations as Miss New Mexico for the upcoming Miss America Scholarship Competition.

When speaking with Kaitlin, there is an immediate feel of openness and inclusion. “I enjoy talking to young people, getting their perspectives, and sharing my life experiences,” she explains, “being the oldest of five siblings, I’ve always led by example”.

Kaitlin joined us as a volunteer pre-Covid in our small group mentoring program called Project Bold. Through volunteering, she realized her passion for empowering girls and young women. Her Social Impact Initiative as Miss New Mexico, “Build It And They Will Come”, stresses the importance of encouraging girls and young women to be a part of creating connected communities and educational opportunities for future generations.

Like other young women, Kaitlin was uncertain about her goals when she first left high school. For 16 years, her whole life revolved around competitive gymnastics, so her first two years of college were spent exploring options and life paths. In college, she also received a brain injury from her time as a flyer on her college cheerleading squad. For a while, she wasn’t sure what would happen with her future. During that year of recovery, she remembers deciding that “if there’s ever a chance to be in zero pain again, I’m not going to let opportunities go to waste. I’m going to go for it.” After a year and a half, she officially recovered and was able to jump back into her education and passions.

Kaitlin is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Architecture. Having had to navigate the world through past experiences she was inspired to design and build beautiful, inclusive, and accessible spaces. Her ultimate goal is to develop her own business that creates more avenues for creative spaces and people wanting to bring their dreams to fruition. Believing in herself and her abilities is what makes her such an amazing role model and leader. Kaitlin sees potential in everything and everyone.

What does she want the girls and young women of New Mexico to know? “Don’t take yourself so seriously all the time. I get caught up focusing on what I have to do, so I forget that I don’t have to be perfect all the time. I can be my weird self and be as authentic as possible. You don’t have to satisfy everyone.”