Santa Clara University

SCU Stories - SCU Stories

Santa Clara University

SCU Stories

Story in the College of Arts & Sciences

Girlich photo

Katie Girlich '15

English major
At a glance:

Current Freshman student and English major Katie Girlich has already written and published her first book.

English major Katie Girlich has already written and published her first book. San Francisco Zoo, Katie’s book celebrates the unique eighty-year history of one of the city's greatest treasures.

A fifth-generation native of San Francisco, Katie grew up within earshot of the San Francisco Zoo. “The roaring lions used to lullaby me to sleep,” she remembers.

Katie began volunteering at the zoo at age 12. As an animal lover she enjoyed working with porcupines and pythons, but there was something else at the zoo that intrigued her.

“The zoo hosts some of the most beautiful and detailed buildings in the city.” Katie realized that she needed to give these landmarks their time in the spotlight.

Katie pitched her idea to Arcadia Publishing, and it was accepted as a new addition to its Images of America series. She worked tirelessly over four months to select two hundred photographs, compile research and interview notes, and write the zoo’s story.

“Time whizzed past so quickly, and before I knew it I had my hands on my first copy!”

At the zoo’s 80th anniversary celebration in June 2009, the then 16-year-old Katie signed copies of her book that immortalized beloved animals like Monarch the grizzly bear, featured favorite structures like Monkey Island, and highlighted important figures like philanthropist Herbert Fleishhacker.

“Sharing the zoo’s history was like opening a gateway into another time.” Katie learned touching stories from many Bay Area residents who expressed their delight after reliving fond memories of days gone by and recognizing family members featured in the book.

This experience was an incredible opportunity for Katie to fan her passions, follow her dreams, and contribute to her community. She hopes that her tale will inspire other teen writers to pursue their ambitions. “A story is not going to mind if you’re sixteen or if you’re sixty. It just wants to be told.”