Katelyn Asmus graduated from Yale University in May.
Katelyn Asmus graduated from Yale University in May.

June 21, 2017

Ever since she can remember, Katelyn Asmus loved to read. She spent her childhood in the small town of Audubon with her nose in chapter books always yearning to learn more.      

“I started reading chapter books in kindergarten. I had this huge library of books. I think it was always something that was a huge part of my life. I don’t think there was a time that I imagine my life going any other way than higher education,” Asmus said.

Late this spring, Asmus graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of arts degree in English and is now working in Washington, D.C., as a staff assistant for Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, where she interned last summer. As a staff assistant, Asmus is in charge of constituent tour requests for the senator’s office, but she also works on various legislative projects. She is not currently working on a project of her own, but she is very interested in domestic legislation.

Throughout high school — she graduated from Audubon High School in 2013 — she participated in many accelerated classes and also graduated with an associate’s degree. She was invited to Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, to tour the campus, where she hoped to later attend for graduate school. Little did she know, she would fall in love with the university and be back in a matter of months to pursue her undergraduate degree.

At a very young age, Asmus’s parents pushed for her to involve herself in as much as possible. They made sure she took the tests needed to be noticed by schools such as Yale. In high school, she received a 31 ACT score (out of a possible 36), proving her tenacity to the Ivy League community. Asmus was modest about her score, conceding that science is her weak spot, where she received her lowest score but with everything else she scored a 32 and above.

Asmus admitted that a huge part of her ending up at an Ivy League school was because of her parents’ commitment to her education. Throughout her life, Asmus’s parents pledged themselves to her education to ensure she was never bored.

“My parents were always trying to keep me interested. We did a lot of educational trips. We traveled across the United States, and we did a lot of historical things because my dad traveled for a living. I always had an endless supply of books,” Asmus said.

Asmus’s mom, Sarah Asmus, is an LPN part time at St. Anthony Clinic in Coon Rapids and full time at Audubon Memorial Hospital, and her dad, Stephen Asmus, is a purchasing manager for All States Ag Parts based out of South Dakota. They didn’t want her to be well-rounded just in school but also in life. They spent summers exposing her to new cultures by taking her on trips all over the country.

Her father recalled one of these trips.

“We were driving through Mississippi one day,” he said, “and we were driving through the heart of lumber country. We saw three or four paper mills, and she (Katelyn) wondered how they made colored paper. I think she was probably 7 or 8 at the time. I told her, ‘Why don’t you write them a letter and find out how they make colored paper?’ So, she wrote a letter to the paper company. It was just little things like that no one else pays any interest to, but they would pique Katelyn’s interest and make her dig deeper into everything.”

Asmus’s close family ties stretch to her extended family as well. Her grandparents took her on various trips around the world and played a crucial part in her upbringing.  She recalled that her planning skills and knack for crafts stemmed from her grandparents.

“Everything I ever learned about trip-planning came from my papa. My nana helped foster my love for crafts, which I channeled into art in both high school and college,” Asmus said.

Asmus is the oldest of three siblings. She has a 13-year-old sister, Victoria, a 12-year-old sister, Alexandra, and a 4-year-old brother, Cael. Her brother’s passion has yet to be sparked, but her sisters have taken up interest in softball. As they did with her, Asmus’s parents make sure they provide their children with every opportunity to participate in what they enjoy. For Asmus, it was her at-home library and summer trips, but for her sisters it’s private softball lessons.

After leaving small-town Iowa and heading out East, Asmus found that the adjustment from Iowa to New Haven was not difficult.

She looked back on how she felt when she first moved to the East Coast.

“One of the reasons that Yale stood out to me was the way they structure college life and residential living. At Yale, the entire college is broken up into what they call residential colleges, so you are assigned a college. There are 120 freshmen that are assigned one of the 12 colleges, and you live at the college your entire time at Yale. You have your 1,500 graduating class, but then you have your smaller residential college, which has a very small community feel, and you get to know everyone in that college.”

Originally, Asmus planned to go into the publishing industry after she finished school. While attending Yale, she joined the Yale University Press program, but later learned she wasn’t ready to move to New York and decided to open up her options.

She began to take political science courses and immensely enjoyed politics and law. The summer after her junior year, she began an internship in D.C. and loved Capitol Hill.

“The idea there (at Yale) is you have to have a major that is really broad (such as English), and you can apply it to a lot of different things when you graduate,” Asmus said.

Now, Asmus still goes back and forth between the publishing world or law. In a few months, she plans to take the law school admission test while she is still in “school mode.”

She is really interested in the legislative aspect of law, such as rural housing and health care. Over the next few years, she plans to narrow down which policies she enjoys working on and learning. Through her staff assistant job, she is looking to gain real-world experience before attending law school.

Although she is living the city life now, she can see herself returning to Iowa eventually. For now, she strives to contribute to the Iowa community from afar.

“One of the reasons I was really excited about this job is because I do adore Iowa,” she explained. “I loved growing up in a small town. I talked about it all the time when I went to school, and I find it really fulfilling that I can work in a city and still feel very connected to Iowa. I am able to give back to that small-town community even if I am not in that small-town community.”