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W&L’s Katie Yurechko ’24 Named ODK National Leader of the Year in Academics and Research Yurechko’s award will support her post-graduate studies as the university’s first Marshall Scholar.

Katie-Yurechko-Photo-scaled-600x400 W&L’s Katie Yurechko ’24 Named ODK National Leader of the Year in Academics and Research

Washington and Lee University senior Kathryn (Katie) Yurechko ’24 has been named the 2024 Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Leader of the Year in academics and research.

Yurechko, a native of Havre de Grace, Maryland, will receive a $1,000 post-graduate scholarship through ODK’s 2024 General Russell E. Dougherty National Leader of the Year competition. Each year, ODK recognizes six outstanding student leaders as National Leaders of the Year, including in each of the five pillars of campus life celebrated by ODK: academics and research, athletics, service to campus and community, communications, and creative and performing arts.

A 2023 initiate of W&L’s Alpha Circle of ODK, Yurechko is double majoring in computer science and philosophy with a minor in poverty and human capability studies and will graduate in May 2024 with a 4.0 GPA.

Yurechko was named the university’s first Marshall Scholar in December 2023, and following graduation she will pursue a master’s degree in social science of the internet at the University of Oxford, followed by a master’s degree in computer science at University College London. The ODK award will support Yurechko’s post-graduate studies as she continues to research unjust social media algorithms and inadequate algorithmic content moderation.

“When I heard that I had been named ODK’s National Leader of the Year in the Academics and Research pillar, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my community of supporters and interdisciplinary educators at Washington and Lee,” Yurechko said. “They have consistently encouraged me to apply my liberal arts skillset to research at the intersection of computer science and social justice, which has been both personally stimulating and societally meaningful.”

Yurechko’s extensive research experience includes serving as a research intern in Carnegie Mellon University’s Media, Interaction and Technology Lab investigating “algospeak,” and conducting research in the University of Washington’s Social Futures Lab developing tools to address online harassment of marginalized social media creators. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences and co-authored two publications with citations from prominent media outlets such as Vox and MSN.

“Katie’s commitment to the issue of algorithmic injustice speaks to her investment in leveraging her academic background and research experience to come up with solutions for the benefit of all, which is one of the qualities that marks her out as such an exceptional leader,” said Matthew Loar, director of fellowships and student research at W&L and circle coordinator for the Alpha Circle. “This recognition from ODK is a deserving honor, one that further underscores something that all of us at Washington and Lee already know: Katie Yurechko is a force, and the sky’s the limit for her.”

At W&L, Yurechko is a Johnson Scholar and a Bonner Scholar and has served as president of the Nabors Service League, co-president of the Volunteer Venture Program and vice president of Campus Kitchen. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the national academic honor society, Phi Sigma Tau, the international philosophy honor society, and received the university’s James McDowell Scholarship for top academic achievement.

Omicron Delta Kappa was founded in 1914 at W&L by 15 student and faculty leaders. The founders formulated the idea that leadership of exceptional quality and versatility in college should be recognized, that representatives in all phases of college life should cooperate in worthwhile endeavors, and that outstanding students, faculty and administrators should meet on the basis of mutual interest, understanding and helpfulness. Omicron Delta Kappa was the first college honor society of a national scope to honor meritorious leadership and service in extracurricular activities, and to encourage the development of general campus citizenship.

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