Hough student turns rejection into elation, earns second UF degree
Kelsey Grant’s journey to becoming a University of Florida graduate began with an unexpected and disappointing start four years ago:
A rejection letter.
However, through Grant’s academic excellence, passion for technology, and desire to be a Gator, that unpleasant setback is now a distant memory. Grant will receive her Master of Science in Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM) degree—her second UF degree in as many years—during UF’s commencement ceremonies Saturday at the Stephen J. O’Connell Center.
Four years ago, Grant’s college plans were straightforward. She wanted to attend UF or a smaller school where she could continue her basketball career.
But neither prospect materialized. Grant wasn’t accepted into UF, and, after weighing multiple offers from NCAA Division II and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) programs, she ultimately decided against playing college basketball.
“Had I been accepted into UF [in 2012], I would have definitely attended,” said Grant, a three-year captain on West Orange High School’s (Winter Garden, Fla.) basketball team. “As a senior in high school, I would have never imagined not doing either of those aspirations [attend UF or play college basketball] upon graduation.”
Grant enrolled at Florida Atlantic University where her experience was unrewarding. She said she was unchallenged academically, and yearned for a college town atmosphere like Gainesville or Baton Rouge, La., where she was born before moving to Orlando.
After three semesters at FAU, Grant again applied to UF. This time she was accepted, and there was no doubt about her future.
“I was ecstatic,” Grant said. “It wasn’t even a question of whether I was transferring or not. I was coming to UF.”
Upon enrolling at UF in Spring 2014, Grant began the ISOM Combined Degree Program, which allowed her to work on her bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously (Grant received her BSBA in December 2015). The ISOM Program was ideal for Grant, blending her passion and talent for technology within a business framework.
Grant, 23, also made a concerted effort to become immersed in the College community, which can often be a challenge for transfer students. She served as a mentor in the Heavener School’s Business Undergraduate Mentorship Program and Heavener Leadership Challenge, which promotes team building and collaborative leadership. She also served as Membership Director for GatorTech, a student-led organization designed for ISOM undergraduates and those interested in technology. Grant also credits the Heavener School’s Transfer Success Seminar, which informed her about the University and College resources available to her.
“That was the platform that laid out all the CCLD (Center for Career & Leadership Development) programs, and what Warrington is all about,” Grant said. “Had I not done that, I would have never gone to UF Career Showcase and got my first internship. That’s what started it all for me.”
Grant said commencement will bring a bittersweet feeling. She’s saddened leaving Gainesville and the Warrington community she’s come to cherish, but excited about beginning her career in General Electric’s Digital Technology Leadership Program.
Grant said she plans on savoring her last few days as a UF student—a status that once seemed unlikely.
“Because I didn’t get into UF the first time, and had to work for a year and a half to try to get into the second time,” said Grant, “being able to say I have two degrees from here means a lot to me.”
DID YOU KNOW?
- Kelsey received BUMP’s Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to the organization’s success.
- In her senior year at West Orange, Kelsey led the team to a 25-4 record and an appearance in the Class 8A Regional Semifinals where West Orange lost to eventual state champion Dr. Phillips (Orlando).
- Kelsey interned with the National Football League in Summer 2015, and assisted with various projects, including writing user guides for internal systems used by game officials and uniform inspectors, and managing technology platforms used for instant replay, the injury video review system, and other communications systems.
- Kelsey served as a Group Fitness Instructor for two years at UF RecSports.