Abandoned as a baby, new MCC-Blue River grad has a happy life now

Katelynn Corkern (right) with friend Harley Burton at MCC commencement exercises May 12
Katelynn Corkern (right) with friend Harley Burton at MCC commencement exercises May 12

An infant’s cries echoing from a trash can in a public restroom in Nanjing, China, reverberated in a way that can only amaze. That was 1996. Katelynn Corkern, now a 20-year-old MCC-Blue River student, explains her journey to the Kansas City area with smiles and a gracious spirit.

Katelynn was just 7 days old when a woman discovered her wrapped in a blanket. In China, at the time, families could legally have just one child. Despite the risks, the good samaritan scooped up the child and took her home. The blanket is still in Katelynn’s possession.

Despite those inauspicious beginnings, Katelynn’s next few years were happy. But the woman who’d rescued her became ill, so at the age of 7 the girl was shuttled to a second foster family. That family would provide her with a living situation so deplorable, she was forced to mostly fend for herself in and around the Nanjing train station.

At 11, Katelynn was discovered by authorities and taken to an orphanage. Her life and future continued to look bleak until the Corkern family from Independence adopted her just before her 14th birthday. (The deadline for foreign adoption in China is age 14.)

Now fast forward to 2016, when Katelynn could usually be found on the MCC-Blue River campus with a pleasant grin and a helping hand for other students working to navigate through college life.

“I feel like I have always been cheerful even though I think I went through a lot,” Katelynn says.

“You just can’t look in the past because you can’t change it. Just look forward to your future, because you can do way better if you don’t just concentrate on your past.”

She graduated from MCC with honors.

Katelynn and her adoptive family (remarkable in their own light) spoke at length with the Examiner newspaper. Read the full story here.

At MCC commencement May 12, Katelynn is congratulated by MCC-Blue River President Dr. Michael Banks.
At MCC commencement May 12, Katelynn is congratulated by MCC-Blue River President Dr. Michael Banks.