Kelly’s journey toward living out her mantra, “All people deserve to live a life in dignity” began at Regina Dominican and led her to the University of Notre Dame’s Kellogg Institute of International Studies. “My communities at both Regina Dominican and Notre Dame allowed for a well-rounded type of personal growth. Academics were always rooted in the greater understanding that our talents should be shared with those less fortunate.
Upon graduation from Notre Dame, Kelly moved to Bududa, Uganda, a rural district without running water or reliable electricity. This district became her home for six months. In Bududa she worked alongside a small team of Ugandans to run a pre-primary school, support Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) in the community. Kelly believes that she is indebted to the people of Bududa. “They taught me about the strength of community, the resilience of love and the amazing power of human connection, transcending borders, languages, and cultures, in its purest form.”
For the last two years, Kristen has been working in South Africa as the Community Project Manager at the Savannah Private Game Reserve, a safari lodge connected to Kruger National Park in South Africa. Kristen works to coordinate projects and deliver services to the residents in the villages surrounding the reserve with the help of The Savanna Trust a non-profit organization. The Trust allows Savanna to collaborate with various community partners and support locally-owned projects that focus on improving the lives of vulnerable individuals in the neighboring villages. The overall goal of the Savanna Trust is to help build more resilient communities, which empower vulnerable individuals to meet their basic needs and secure better futures.
In August of 2018, Kelley spoke to Regina students about her career path, its challenges, and rewards. Kristen plans to be back in the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree.