Kate Patenaude: A Life Changed
Kate Patenaude is a starter for the Wenatchee Valley College women’s basketball team. She first visited Wenatchee last spring during her recruiting trip and immediately recognized how much it reminded her of her home town of Missoula, Montana, "without the mountains, but just as pretty," she said. "It just felt like the right fit. I got along great with the girls and I could tell Coach (Rachel) Goetz was very passionate about what she does and the name we wear on our jerseys. I knew I was going to be able to get a lot more experience playing basketball at the college level. I would also be able to work towards what I wanted to do for a career, which is nursing."
Kate grew up watching her mom, Nancy, interact with hospital patients and saw the true impact a nurse and a patient can have on one another. In her senior year of high school, Nancy introduced Kate to one of her patients. She explained that 18-year-old Emmanuel Nsubuga, nicknamed "Emma", a young African man suffering from Legg-Calve Perthes disease and deformed hips, just needed a friend to talk to while he recovered from a difficult surgery.
Kate whole heartedly believes that opportunities are given to everyone, but it is what you choose to do with them that can change your life. With an open heart and a determination to help someone in need, she began meeting with Emma. What began with a simple introduction turned into a lasting friendship.
Kate also saw an opportunity to raise money for his family and the local orphanage where he lived, Musana Children’s Home. She opened a booth at the Missoula Saturday Market and began selling purses, backpacks and jewelry, raising $1,000 to support her friend.
Meeting Emma solidified the fact that nursing was Kate’s future. "There was no longer any doubt in my mind," she said.
After obtaining a degree in nursing, she plans to become a traveling nurse, helping patients both in the U.S. and internationally.
Kate now finds the support she once showed Emma in her own teammates, and she is often reminded of their friendship when she listens to Coach Goetz’s locker room talks.
"On Saturday afternoon when we are sitting in the locker room, Coach will remind us that Lady Knights are about something bigger than ourselves; it’s about being a team," Kate said. "The girls support me both on and off the court. We’re like a family."