PC Profile: Kelsey Conti '17

Kelsey graduated in May after serving as a long-time Academic Coach to a PC teen coach, and doing her own independent research on the long-term impact of youth leadership programs on PC coach alumni. She presented her research The Smart After School: How Equitable Programs Promote Equitable Access in April 2017 at Harvard University’s Engaged Scholarship and Social Justice Undergraduate Research Conference and at Smith's 'Celebrating Collaborations'.

PC: What are you doing now that you have graduated from Smith?

KC: Since graduating I'm working per diem at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. I am applying for other jobs here and there, but I don't have anything full time YET!

PC: Tell us a highlight memory from your time with Project Coach.

KC: Honestly, every moment at Project Coach was a highlight. I think if I were to pin-point one memory, I would have to say back when I first started working with Yessica she had put my contact info in her phone as "Kelsey #besttutorever". I know it sounds silly, but that was so special to me. It meant she trusted me, I was doing something right.

PC: How did Project Coach impact who you are now, and what you're doing in your life?

KC: Project Coach impacted nearly every part of my life. I almost dropped my major because of a conflict between a required class and the Monday Night Academy. That time spent in Project Coach was irreplaceable. Being a part of the program has changed the way I think about youth in general. I have tremendous amounts of respect for youth. I'm much more defensive now whenever someone makes a comment regarding young people's ability. You can do anything. My involvement in Project Coach has inspired me to want to continue to do similar work: to follow a positive youth development framework, to work with adolescents, and to keep encouraging youth into leadership roles.

PC: Team is a big part of life in Project Coach. Who’s on your team in your current life & work?

KC: I have always been the independent type. It wasn't until very recently I realized the power of having people on your time. I would say the most influential and important person on my team recently is my mentor, old boss, and away-from-home-mom Alicia. She has been my rock post-graduation. She helped me find my job at Cooley, helped me figure out my living situation not once, but twice, and has provided unconditional love and support. I am beyond lucky.

PC: What big idea, project, adventure has your attention? What’s your next play?

KC: In this last year, I did my own research project with Sam. I was trying to understand what a successful afterschool program looks like and to what extent does Project Coach follow that framework. Throughout the process of the Project, I began thinking more and more about education policy and ways to bring about change in a system that is failing so many kids. I always wanted to help people--I considered teaching for a while but I knew it wasn't really what I wanted to do. Getting involved in education policy seems more fitting to me. Though I'm not sure where to begin, it's something I'm really excited about.

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