Clubs may know Julia Pratt, executive director of the Student Finance Board (SFB), for her power to fund a Gavin DeGraw concert or deny them bowling tournament funding.
Outside the SFB office, however, the red-haired, fifth-year senior, sporting a shirt that reads, “Iowa: we so corny,” describes herself as a fun-loving, hard-working, tomboyish nursing major who is addicted to reality shows and appropriates portions of her personal budget to world travel and funny T-shirts from Delia’s.
The daughter of two “hippyish” parents (she said her mom tried to go to Woodstock but the car didn’t make it), Pratt enjoys watching “The Amazing Race,” “The Apprentice” and football, especially when her team, the Philadelphia Eagles, are playing her boyfriend’s team, the New York Giants.
“Guys are impressed that I know the players’ names,” she said. “I should’ve done that before I had a boyfriend – it’s a great way to meet guys.”
Earning every penny of the costs in jobs since the age of 14, she has traveled to Italy, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England and Australia.
“If I had all that money back, I could’ve had a down payment on a house,” Pratt said.
Her understanding of different cultures will help her in nursing, she said, by giving her an appreciation of her patients’ different viewpoints.
“I’ve had patients with cancer who are convinced that Western medicine is not the way to go,” she said. “I have to understand where they’re coming from so I can incorporate that into my plan of care for them.”
Being part of SFB, likewise, is preparing her for life as a nurse. “The hardest thing about being on SFB is that people don’t always like you,” she said. “People focus on what they didn’t get rather than the positives of what we do.”
Sometimes, when her cell phone rings at all hours of the night, Pratt wonders why she keeps doing this. It’s knowing she’s the best person for the job, she said, and “knowing I’ll leave a legacy.”
“I’m not a quitter, I couldn’t quit, they’ll never get me down so far that I’ll quit,” she said.
She has learned to not mind being the outsider.
“I’m fun-loving, hippyish, liberal minded, and into being open to everything,” she said. “I’ve been stressing that so much to my board – you don’t have to agree with everyone’s lives, but you do have to accept it.”
Pratt was not always the person friends see today, though. She originally had some trouble adjusting to college life. Anyone who is familiar with Pratt’s bubbly personality would be surprised to hear that once in her college career, she sought professional help.
“I went through a time that was not the happiest time,” she said. “I was very depressed my first couple of years. I was thrown into an entirely new situation and didn’t know how to deal with it.”
In high school, she contributed to the newspaper and yearbook and was interested in photography. Her whole life she had been a competitive swimmer. She spent her first two years at the College, however, as a history education major and rugby player, with few other outside activities.
“I was burned out – I was one of those kids in high school who did everything,” she said. Problems with her knees and a concussion prompted her to drop rugby altogether.
Realizing that doing nothing was not much fun, she considered joining SFB. There were no available positions, so she joined the Student Government Association (SGA). When the student who was the SGA liaison to SFB studied abroad, Pratt stepped into the position.
At the end of her sophomore year, Pratt switched into nursing and took a semester’s worth of summer classes. She kept her history minor.
“I always wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I was scared (at first) because people’s lives are in my hands. It doesn’t matter that it’s scary, though. You help people every day . I love being a nurse. It’s so cool.”
Pratt enjoyed having two senior years, although she only got to participate in senior week once.
“I highly recommend going for the fifth year,” she said.
Pratt hopes to go to Europe before getting a full-time job and entering the real world. Her dream is to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s nursing program after a year in the work world.
“In all honesty, I didn’t want to come here,” Pratt said. “It was a money thing. Now, five years later, I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t come here. I’m going to miss it a lot – I’m sad that I’m leaving.”