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Surratt sticks with Young Life

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It all started with a Young Life leader, which led Katie Surratt and Chris Eckard to eventually get married. During her “reckless” years in high school, Katie Eckard was introduced to a local Young Life leader and was convinced to join the Christian youth group.

“While I was in high school I was deeply affected by Young Life. I think during my years in high school I contemplated questions such as, ‘Where do I belong?’ and ‘What is my purpose?’” Eckard said. “A caring adult stepped into my life in the form [of] a Young Life leader and became a dear friend to me. I am forever shaped by someone who took interest in me and cared for me.”

While in high school, Eckard was involved in Habitat for Humanity, on the board of Athletic Boosters, editor-in-chief of the Newsstreak and vice president of SCA. In 2009, she graduated from HHS, which she feels grateful for.

“It was such a privilege to walk the halls of Harrisonburg High School. I had many influential people love me enough to walk alongside me while I thought about my eternal future,” Eckard said.

After high school, she decided to attend Virginia Tech and study human development with a minor in psychology. While at Virginia Tech, she played volleyball and decided to become a Young Life leader.  

“I decided that investing and caring [for] other people is the most life-giving career for me, [so] I became a Young Life leader in college and continued by going on staff after my graduation,” Eckard said.

Eckard currently lives and works alongside her husband in Frederick, Maryland. Her job as a Young Life staff member entails “a collection of skills,” as she puts it.

“In any given week, I can host a neon dance party, have coffee with a millionaire and coach a lacrosse game. All of that would be within my job description. I partner with many caring adults to impact the next generation. I am a student of adolescent culture. I build relationships [with] teenagers in the hopes [of] making an impact,” Eckard said.

Eckard’s job allows her to make individual impacts on people, and according to herself, she has been impacted as well.

“The beauty of my job is not that I have traveled across the world, but that I have grown where I have been planted. I have been involved in many people’s stories. I have been impacted by the people I am privileged enough to call friends. As we ask ourselves big, life-searching questions, I hope each of us has a trusted friend we can be vulnerable with. I am lucky to be that person for many people,” Eckard said.

Eckard knows that she has found her purpose because she can see herself later in life doing the same thing and being content with what she has done.

“As morbid as it is, when I think about my funeral, I hope the celebration of my life will point people to a goodness that is rare in this world. I deeply hope that when I leave this life I will have made an impact for the good. I believe it is important to start with the end in mind,” Eckard said.

After all of her work with others, she feels most proud of herself for helping so many people and being a friend.

“I am proud that I am changing, growing and being transformed every day by working with high school students,” Eckard said. “Every person I am in contact with has a different story I get to learn from. If I have the opportunity to impact anyone else through my lifestyle, it is all worth it. I am proud of the way I am spending my time on Earth. That is what matters. I am most proud of who I have become.”

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Surratt sticks with Young Life