Honoring the Legacy of Sarah Katz '15
Sarah Katz ‘15 understood the precious value of minutes.
She knew, for instance, that there were 1,440 minutes in a day. She said so in her Stevens graduation speech, when she called them “1,440 daily opportunities to make a positive impact.”
She also knew — from too young an age — that the chances of survival decrease 7 to 10 percent each minute that a person in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive CPR or the help of a defibrillator.
So it was only fitting that Sarah, who passed away in September at age 21, dedicated much of her life to volunteer work and activism that she knew could save lives. “She was always a leader and very inclusive,” said Sarah’s mother, Jill Katz.
While at Stevens, Sarah became a Red Cap Ambassador for the American Heart Association and later began teaching CPR at her high school and in underserved communities.
Sarah’s work with the American Heart Association would continue through middle and high school, as she organized teams for the Wall Street Run & Heart Walk.
Sarah dedicated the service work required for her bat mitzvah to heart-health awareness. She and Stevens classmate Hannah Moss made a video on the importance of defibrillator training.
“Even by high school, no one else I knew was as involved with an organization the way Sarah was with the American Heart Association,” said Moss ‘15. “Sarah’s nature was just to get involved and share as much helpful information as possible.”
During her first year at the University of Pennsylvania, Sarah worked with an organization called Project ADAM and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on efforts to require schools throughout the state to be certified as “heart-safe zones.” Pennsylvania has laws to help put AED (automated external defibrillator) devices in schools, but they are not required.
In recognition of her efforts, Sarah received awards from the American Heart Association in 2013 and 2015.
Sarah’s mere presence at Stevens had a lasting impact on the school — she is the reason faculty and staff receive AED and CPR training each year — but it was her personality and dedication to her classmates that those who knew her remember most fondly.
“Sarah was an incredible student,” said Director of Curriculum and Innovation Rhiannon McElwee, who taught Sarah’s 8th grade class. “Her energy, commitment and diligence to everything she did was exceptional.”
In her graduation speech, Sarah urged her classmates to take the part of the Stevens mission statement that imagines “engaged citizens who are motivated to make a difference” and make it a reality.
“If every one of us can make the most of our 1,440 minutes in our day, and make a positive impact,” she said, “imagine the change we can make in the world.”
For more on Sarah’s story and how you can support the American Heart Association, visit https://ahatribute. funraise.org/fundraiser/sarahkatz.
And to learn more about sudden arrhythmic death syndrome, visit www.sads.org.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of SCOOP.