WHEN I TOLD A FRIEND of mine I would be interviewing Catherine Goetze, ’18, for PULSE, she replied that Cath had just sent her an email asking for chicken nuggets. This statement in itself inevitably elicits further inquiry, and my friend explained that she subscribed to Cath’s newsletter, and was alerted that Cath had posted an entry on her blog asking for “chicken tenders from late night or something” and offering an unrefuseable bounty in return: “a full reimbursement, all the cookies you can eat, all the beer you can drink, to watch the 8th Harry Potter movie with four sexy single ladies, [and] a feature on the blog.” Signed with a Christmas tree-lit selfie of her and her smiling friends, it is clear that Cath’s effortless enthusiasm would entice a visitor. That it did, and she later updated the post with a picture of a freshman on her couch eating the chicken fingers he brought.
What has become an inherently social and community-based platform started as a blog which Cath only showed to close friends. The summer after she graduated from high school, Cath, a very bored FoShoFro, decided to create a blog. She viewed it as an “online journal”, and used it as a space to write about her life and its key players or to express her creativity through song or poetry. That, however, is not what would currently be found on her website. Winter quarter of her freshman year, Cath enrolled in Designing Your Stanford and was there inspired by her section leader to make the blog public. She thought, “I’m putting effort into this, I’m pretty proud of what I have created, if I tweak it just a bit and change the content just slightly and make the focus more on my experience as a Stanford student and shedding light on that, then I think this could be something really cool.” That she did, and now the website is a characteristic collage of musings on her life, travel diaries, videos of her Stanford experience, and whatever else is on her mind. By simply posting it on her personal Facebook profile, her family and friends shared her website enough for a member of the class of 2019 to find it and post it in their Facebook group, which brought more readership than the blog had ever seen.
Amid the earthquake hysteria and oddly specific questions about Move-In Day, I, among many of my classmates, was relived to see links to her videos. Unlike any of the other materials in the plethora of Approaching Stanford mailings, Cath’s videos provided a sunny, optimistic, and realistic picture of life as a freshman. Through three minute snapshots of her life, we were able not only to see a little bit of what we were getting into, but to acquiesce the answers to the questions we really wanted answered. Seeing her and her friends enjoy life on The Farm so much was the ultimate relief. Once this class arrived here, they did not hesitate to reach out. As an Orientation Volunteer, Cath was met by many excited freshman who recognized her from the website. “I am so grateful that they feel so comfortable coming up to me,” she says of her audience.
Her writing is always personal, relatable, and immediate – she does not wish to convey herself as the ideal representation of a Stanford student, but as someone real.. She tells me earnestly, “Ideally, there would be as many Cath in Colleges as there are students here. There is nothing unique about what I’m doing.” However, I would argue that the most unique and endearing aspect of her online presence is her ineffable enthusiasm for Stanford and its culture. She truly loves the school, calling it her “first home” and in our internet culture of criticism and scrutiny, it is refreshing hear about someone who is pleased with her life.