Kristin Kelly

CC Connected recently had the opportunity to catch up with senior Kristin Kelly, who loves mint chocolate ice cream, the color red and serves as the 2023-24 president of the Student Government Association. Learn more about the Columbia native who will graduate in April with a degree in Biochemistry.

CCC: Could you share a little bit of personal background about yourself?

KK: Hi! I’m Kristin Kelly. I was born and raised in Columbia, Missouri. I have five siblings and I am a middle child. Growing up, I wanted to be a mad scientist; you could say STEM has always interested me, although now cartoons are less to blame. Originally I wanted to pursue my biochemistry degree so I can one day become an OB-GYN, but now I am looking toward becoming an MD-PhD to become a clinician scientist so I can research reproductive health. Now on to the important stuff: I am a huge romance book reader, I adore mint chocolate chip ice cream, and red is my favorite color. My friends and family would describe my personality as bubbly, driven and caring.

CCC: How would you describe your experience as a Columbia College student?

KK: My time at Columbia College had an interesting start as I started in Fall 2020. Now, I know what you are thinking: Please don’t talk about your COVID experience. I know, I am sick of talking about it, too. Originally with everything shut down on campus, I was so afraid of not being able to achieve the impact I wanted on campus. I joined Student Government the second week of the semester as an at-large representative for the student body, along with joining the Resident Housing Association. Pushing myself to find these leadership opportunities while our campus was mostly shut down propelled me into fighting for what I believe in on campus.

Members of the Columbia College Science Club hold boxes of potatoes before donating their 123-pound harvest to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

I became a resident assistant (RA) and served for two years in that position, and became more involved in the CC Science & Pre-Health Professions Club, serving as historian and then secretary. With my fellow CC Science Club exec members, I helped co-found the CC Science Community Garden, which has helped donate over 250 pounds of produce to our local food bank in the last two years. Going into my senior year, I was elected to become the Student Government president. In my time as president, we have started the Cougar composting project, shared our ideas for improvements on campus (whether that be basketball court lines by the net behind Brouder Science Center, or the lighting in Atkins-Holman Student Commons), and we are working on a third annual dodgeball tournament benefiting the food bank.

I am so grateful for choosing Columbia College for the leadership experience I have garnered here, and for my professors. Dr. Kent Strodtman and Dr. Tara Martin in the Biology Department are some of the best educators I have ever witnessed. I have loved my time in the small classes, where I’m never afraid to raise my hand, but I am even more grateful for my weight in coffee provided to me during office hours.

Columbia College Alumni Association Advisory Council Vice Chair Jared Reichel ’16, left, and Student Government Association President Kristin Kelly officially kick off holiday season at the 2023 Holiday Lighting Ceremony. Photo by Columbia College Photographer & Graphic Designer Abigail Wade

CCC: What is your favorite Columbia College tradition and why?

KK: The Holiday Lighting Ceremony! I love this tradition because it’s a bright light in the midst of one of the hardest parts of the semester. In college I think it’s increasingly harder to get into the spirit during exam season, so this is a nice way to celebrate the season and the beauty of Columbia College. Driving on Rogers Street becomes picturesque when campus is lit up, the mass of buildings surrounding St. Clair transforming into a grand gingerbread house. This year, I was honored to participate in the ceremony by pushing the button to officially turn on the lights, which was an amazing experience to end my tenure as I am graduating this spring.

CCC: In what ways do you think your time at CC has prepared you for the future?

KK: I have had the opportunity to go over to Mizzou’s lab to volunteer in order to have more lab experience, and the lab managers are always extremely impressed by my pipette-manship and all the skills I have learned from Columbia College. Thanks to the rave reviews, I have been accepted to MU’s biomedical master’s program, where I will study how the immune system repairs cardiovascular tissue after a heart attack. Furthermore, CC has taught me perseverance in hardship, communication with those around me, and to go after what I am passionate about.