Just completing her first year at MCLA, Kelley Bryant '14 of West Springfield, Mass., has been busy creating her own story while embracing her new life as a college student. In addition to being a student-athlete, she learned to ski, traveled abroad to help others and made many friends.
For Bryant, attending MCLA was an opportunity not only to play college volleyball, but to enjoy an atmosphere where the class sizes are smaller and students get to know their professors.
"I would get lost in a large lecture hall type of class," said Bryant, a business major with a concentration in accounting. Two semesters into her college career, she says she's met many people of all ages.
"No matter who you are or what you look like, there are always kind-hearted people looking for a new friend," she explained. "I love to hear their stories and listen to what they've experienced, and I try to be as brave as they have been to create my own story."
When spring break rolled around, Bryant found herself deciding whether she should travel to Prague in the Czech Republic or to Belize in Central America, to volunteer for a community service project. Ultimately, she determined that Belize offered the greatest opportunities for personal growth and adventure.
"For the first time, I felt like an adult. I was responsible for myself and I was responsible for the actions I made because they would impact my group or anyone around me. The expeditions we went on were incredible. Standing on top of the Mayan ruins and actually realizing that we were in the midst of a domain that was sacred was mind-blowing," Bryant said.
That feeling was matched by another experience while working in the village on a service project - planting trees for families who relied on their fruit as an important part of their diet - with three other students.
"We were leaving a house where we had just planted four trees when the woman that lives there came to thank us and say goodbye," Bryant explained. "She said to the four of us, 'Bless you all. In the next years to come I hope this tree grows large and bears fruit. These fruit will feed my family and we will be saved.'
"The whole experience was rewarding and it was more than words can begin to describe. I can't tell you how grateful I am to have taken this opportunity," she added.
As a member of the women's volleyball team, Bryant became part of MCLA history when they made it to the playoffs for the very first time. And, as a collegiate athlete, she is on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC).
"Members of SAAC all try to better the community and be good ambassadors of the College," she said.
What's up for Bryant's sophomore year? Joining the Dance Club and more travel, which she plans to do every year. Her many options include spending a Semester at Sea or study in Ireland.
"Although it has only been one year," she explained, "I feel as if I have already grown so much as a person. I really think this school has had a lot to do with that. I have to take care of everything on my own, but if I need help it is not that far away. I just have to go out and find it and it is always there."