2009 Scholar

Harmonizing Democracy: Elevate Your Voice

Kaitlyn Chana is a passionate and diligent healthcare leader, storyteller, philanthropist, entrepreneur and is known to many as a servant leader. She obtained her Master of Business Administration and Master of Health Administration from the University of North Florida in December 2021.

Following a decade in the news industry with a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Central Florida, Kaitlyn felt compelled to amplify people’s voices to create change. As a teenager, she volunteered with children with life-threatening illnesses through her previous nonprofit organization, Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, Inc. These kiddos overcame adversity, showed fearless tenacity, and defied the odds. She wanted to see their stories on the 5 o’clock news, which led her into journalism – telling real stories about real people.

Kaitlyn was recognized for her volunteerism by congress and on the international Olympic stage, but—unbeknownst to everyone who only saw her self-assured commitment to charity—Kaitlyn had a secret. From middle school through college, Kaitlyn suffered from three eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. This mental illness nearly took her life. She felt empty- unresponsive, detached, and apathetic towards all things. Her insecurities were exploited when she became a patient in the hospital and learned the realities of treatment.

Those life experiences acted as a catalyst that put her into a leadership position as a local television news reporter, where she actively spoke about mental illness. Kaitlyn would ask people to tell their stories daily, which, in turn, led her to share her battle with eating disorders. But, she wanted to do more, so she dreamed bigger. According to the Eating Disorders Coalition, at least 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder at some time in their life.

This realization catapulted Kaitlyn to start a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, Reel Stories. Real People., Inc. in June 2017. The mission began with the desire to tell inspirational and educational stories. However, that mission would remain incomplete until her team could use storytelling to broaden the mental health discussion and address eating disorders.

Kaitlyn has seen how optimal healthcare can improve someone’s life, especially if early intervention is accessible. Kaitlyn’s main initiative is developing an educational film and guided curriculum entitled Empty in high school classrooms nationwide to address eating disorders. The Empty programming will include a captivating film and guided curriculum for teachers to use as an enhancement resource.

Reel Stories. Real People. Real Problems. Real Solutions.