3.26.19 6

The Advice Hoda Gave Me at a Funeral

Two weeks before I moved into my first year dorm at UVA, my sister’s best friend’s mom passed away suddenly. She was such a vibrant, warm lady and is interwoven in many of my childhood memories. My whole family attended her funeral at our church, and afterwards, the family received guests at their home. Somewhere between the buffet line and the soda cooler, I found myself talking to four of Mrs. H’s sorority sisters from her days at Virginia Tech.

I only realized it later, but one of them was Hoda Kotb.

While we were mingling, it came up that I was only days away from starting college, which led them to reflect on their own time as sorority sisters. Because of the funeral, they had spent time over the previous few days walking down memory lane. They were telling me about some of their favorite times, and then I so clearly remember Hoda cutting into the conversation to tell me to take as many pictures in college as possible. I’d want to remember all the good times, and while memory fades, pictures are a great reminder of one of the best chapters of life. The lot of them had spent the last few days pouring over their own photos and it had brought them great comfort—and lots of laughs—in this time of great loss.


I didn’t have a blog post up on Monday. I had more than enough free time to write one this weekend, but instead, I spent my time working on a project I’ve been chipping away at for the last month or so—reorganizing and cleaning out my Dropbox account.

You see, I really took Hoda’s advice to heart when I was in college—I loved being the group “historian” and my Nikon point-and-shoot was never far out of reach. I have thousands upon thousands of photos from not only college, but high school and post-grad. Up until the last three or four years, I never really deleted photos that weren’t “the best” or blurry or of random people. I also tended to throw photos in folders pretty haphazardly, so I’m going back and implementing the structure I use now, where each year has a master folder, each month is a sub folder, and then I create a folder for each event in the correct month.

I also have hundreds of old family photos I’ve been trying to better organize. Some of them I’ve scanned myself—and I’d love to buy a photo scanner to digitize even more! But the large majority of old photos I have are ones my Pop Pop scanned for the family when he was still alive, which I consider one of his greatest parting gifts to us.

Even though I’ve deleted thousands of photos, I don’t regret taking a single one and have had so much fun strolling down memory lane these past few weeks. As I was looking through all those photos, I realized what they say is true—you’re never as fat as you think you are and everyone has an awkward stage. If only I could go back and convince my younger self of those truths!

So in the spirit of Hoda, I thought it’d be fun to share a few unedited, unfiltered (G-RATED!) photos from my college days that I came across this weekend and love, along with a bit of commentary from me.

Here’s a photo of me, my two sisters, Jennifer and Lindsey, and our cousin, Taylor, on my first trip to Charleston! This August 2011 trip sparked my love for CHS hardcore.

I don’t care that much about football, but I loved tailgating, dressing up for games, and any excuse to eat Raising Canes fried chicken with friends. This shot is from second year, outside our university-owned apartment.

Second year, I lived with this squad of ladies and we had the best time in the apartment pictured above. It was truly one of the best years of my life. We always said we should have lived together again—but in a way, I’m glad we didn’t since I’m not sure the same magic would be there.

Third year, I lived in the Sigma Kappa house, pictured here in the snow! You should have seen the parking lot we had—it was like a game a Tetris. It’s amazing no one’s car got hit that year.

In the SK house, I had my own room—it was small, but was the perfect size for one. The ceiling sloped down, and some not-so-bright person decided to put a skylight in a bedroom. My dad called it “the paint in the ass piece of glass,” but he was able to remedy this situation for me by installing this custom shade. I went back to the SK house during our five-year reunion this summer and the shade was still there, which made me so happy it’s serving other occupants of this room as well!

You know those pieces of clothes you always will love? This skirt is one for me—it was one of my first-ever Nordstrom purchases.

My sorority hosted Violet Gala to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association and my family attended. My sister Lindsey and I took this obligatory shot with TJ, saving a spot for our middle sister, Jennifer. The same day this photo was taken, I found out my Pop Pop had fallen down the stairs and broken his neck; sadly, he passed away the following day.

This is a shot of me and Jennifer at Violet Gala the next year. Do y’all remember when the skinny arm was having a ~~moment?

Ok, I lied about the no filter thing—this is one of my first Instagrams, and is an inspirational banner on a construction fence on the church near the sorority house. This banner went up the same day I was offered my internship at Glamour, and I took it as a sign.

Here’s one last OG Instagram of one of my favorite places—the place I was lucky enough to study, live, play, learn, and take too many photos at for four wonderful years.

Leave a Comment


  1. Monica wrote:

    I love this post so, so much–and the walk down memory lane, of course! V. fitting as I’m watching the Today Show right now (obviously). Her advice definitely rings true for the rest of life, too 🙂

    Published 3.27.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much, Monica! xoxo

      Published 4.12.19
  2. Leslie wrote:

    I just moved to Charlottesville a few months ago and was so happy there was a Raising Canes here. I was raised in another college town but have been without a Canes for almost a decade. I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve been since we moved. So fun to see all your old college pics 🙂

    Published 3.27.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Love that all the fried chicken places are in a row in Charlottesville! What a fun town.

      Published 4.12.19
  3. Allen Urban wrote:

    Hi Katie, thanks for the trip down memory lane! Love, Padre

    Published 3.29.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Padre! xoxo

      Published 4.3.19