By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend
Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 is ready to make its mark on the world! We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.
Today, we’d like you to meet Ashlyn Kelly:
Hometown: Bradford, Pennsylvania
Scholarships: I have received the John K. Henne Scholarship for International Study, the Louis W. and Evelyn H. Balmer Trustee Scholarship, and the Mary G. Chisholm Undergraduate Research Award. I am also a two-year recipient of the Janet Wood Reno Memorial Scholarship for my leadership and service, a 2017 Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, and a 2017-18 Undergraduate Research Grant.
On choosing Penn State Behrend: The campus reminded me of home. I grew up on a hill in the middle of the woods, and we got a lot of snow in the winter. I like the colder weather, so Behrend was a perfect fit for me. But the main reason that I chose Behrend was because of the chemistry labs. I wanted to work with the most up-to-date technology, and Behrend’s labs are everything I could ever want. We have many instruments that most students don’t get to work with until graduate school.
On choosing her major: I really liked science in middle school and high school. Comparing the different science disciplines, chemistry stood out because of its versatility. You can go into nearly any industry with a chemistry degree.
On research opportunities: In March, I presented my research work at the National American Chemical Society Conference in New Orleans! I also had the chance to do research for my biology minor in Costa Rica last spring as a part of a study abroad program.
Proudest accomplishment at Behrend? Creating the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) stairwell where people can leave positive notes for one another. When I became president of the club last year, I wanted the organization to have a bigger presence and impact on campus, so I came up with the idea of a motivational wall.
At first, we hung up a piece of paper in Reed where students could leave one another motivational messages to read. As time progressed, we decided to expand it and we eventually took over an entire stairwell in Reed. We placed sticky notes with positive messages on them and stuck them all over the walls. We also hung blank notes for students to write their own. The theme of the project is “take what you need, give what you can.”
One day when we were adding new notes, one of our members wrote the phone number for the suicide hotline on some of them. A few days later, they were all gone. That inspired us to create a permanent poster with a variety of hotline numbers on it such as the sexual assault, addiction, eating disorders, and domestic violence hotlines. Knowing that I have been a part of something that has helped others and possibly saved lives is rewarding.
Campus involvement: I am a Lion Ambassador, and I have been president of RAK for the past two years. I was also a part of Lambda Sigma Honor Society. I have served as president and treasurer of both the Nittany Catholic Club and Chem Club. I am also a part of the Lion Service Council and the liturgical minister coordinator for Catholic Campus Ministries. Last semester, I taught a chemistry lab and I have worked as a Lion Scout for the past three years. I have participated in many community service projects, such as ServErie and MLK Day of Service. This spring, I participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Beaumont, Texas, to help with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts.
Why she gives back: I went through a lot during my first two years in college, including the death of my grandmother, and some serious family health scares and roommate issues. At that time, I was at my all-time low. That’s when I was joined RAK. Helping others has helped me in so many ways. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like I did.
What you’d be surprised to know about her: I have never dyed my hair.
Advice for new students: Say yes! Behrend offers so many opportunities, so take them. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone.
Ashlyn has accepted a job at Plastics Services Network (PSN) in Erie after her graduation in May.