09/20/06

Senior Lauren Kelley has never wanted to draw attention to herself, yet her many accomplishments have made her a stand-out in the Saint Mary's College community.

Kelley was stricken with a brain tumor at the age of 9 that left her legally blind, and she lived much of the next three years in hospitals before she was cured by a renowned surgeon in New York.

"I have lost a lot but I have gained so much," says Kelley. "I"ve had a lot of meaningful experiences that I don't think many people my age have had."

Kelley testified before Congress when she was 15 and has raised more than $45,000 for the National Brain Tumor Foundation. She currently serves on the College's Academic Honor Council and writes a weblog about the New York Yankees. From attending public high school to choosing Saint Mary's College, Kelley strives to be treated the same as other students.

"I want to be Lauren, not visually impaired Lauren," Kelley says. "I consider myself a regular student, and I am. I can do all the work. I just have more obstacles. I believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough. The people here have been awesome. Everyone goes out of their way to help me, from faculty to the staff to the students. No one makes me feel like I'm at a disadvantage."

Kelley, a communication major, uses zoom text on her computer and books on tape to help her in her studies. She is currently writing her senior thesis on the media's portrayal of disabled athletes.

Her achievements have inspired other students, including her roommate Brianna Hardy.

"I can only hope that someday I too might have a fraction of the wisdom, class and integrity that Lauren so naturally possesses," says Hardy. "Although the academic portion of my education at Saint Mary's has come from my classes, the education of my heart and soul over the past four years I owe largely to my friendship with Lauren."

Outside of her academic work, Kelley pursues her passion: baseball. She became a diehard Yankees fan as a young teenager, thanks to her father's love for the Bronx Bombers. She listens to the radio broadcasts of their games through MLB.com audio and has written six columns about the team for spikesballparks.com.

"She's one fantastic sports writer," says Monica Mendenhall, coordinator of the Honor Council who works in the Office of Academic Affairs. "She's the Dr. Phil of sports journalism. She's created quite the baseball fever in our office."

Her experiences have helped Kelley see the larger picture.

"I believe that I am who I am because of what I have been through," Kelley says. "I have learned to appreciate the little things in life because I know it can be taken away at any minute. I have learned that it's the quality of life, not the quantity that is important."

--Kevin Damore
Office of College Communications

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