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The Graduate

The Red-Headed Writer (aka Kelly Conroy)

Erin Kracht

(5/2013) You all have gotten to know "The Red-Headed Writer" (which, actually, you may not know since she is a writer, after all), Kelly Conroy, over the past two years through her editorials to The Emmitsburg News Journal. Kelly has written creative articles and commented on various issues during her senior year of college continuing into her time as an MBA graduate student. Well, guess what? As Kelly’s older...and let me say, much wiser sister (Kelly, remember that!) is now my turn to creatively explore the life of this humble young woman.

Let’s start at the beginning. Although Kelly’s writing is pretty sophisticated, let me remind you that she was born in 1990. You may question, "The 90’s? Oh yeah, the wonderful time of peace and prosperity in our nation." Well, your thoughts are quite appropriate because that description of the 90’s is exactly in line with Kelly’s demeanor. Kelly - the cutest, petite, fair skinned, angel kissed (*freckled*), carrot top baby and little girl - had one of the most easy going and kind personalities one could ever imagine for such a young person to have. Our mom even admits, despite the fact that her four other children may not like it, Kelly was "the dream child." For example, Kelly was so loving that even when we would play "King and Queen" by taking all of the couch cushions off of the couches and stack them to make royal chairs, Kelly would humbly accept the role as "jack." Our older brother would get the most cushions and wear the longest blanket tied on as a royal robe in order to be the "king," I would get a decent amount of cushions and a crown to be the "queen," and Kelly would get a single cushion on the ground to be "jack" and do gymnastics tricks to entertain the king and queen. I guess one could say that the role of jack is simply the result of being the youngest child at the time, but the situation did not even bother Kelly. Kelly thought she had the best role since she got to do her acrobatics and make the king and queen happy.

Growing up, Kelly continued to take the positive outlook on life that she demonstrated as a young girl. As you may recall from one of her articles published in The Emmitsburg New Journal, Kelly loved being the middle child with 2 siblings older and 2 siblings younger than her. Most people view being "the middle child" as the worst possible situation - that they lose out on all attention and opportunities. Through conversation with others, I have become thoroughly convinced that being "the middle child" is a real syndrome. HOWEVER, Kelly is the perfect example of one who takes full advantage of all opportunities in life. Kelly always considered being the middle child a blessing, and best of all, she truly believes it is.

I have the best memories of growing up with Kelly as my best friend. We had great imaginations. Some of our typical games included "store" in which each of the kids in our family would open a little business (such as a grocery store with Goldfish and Wheat Thin snacks available or a beauty shop where one could get their hair sprayed with water and done in a very interesting formal style) in the family room. Kelly would always do all the work getting everything set up so that each of the kids would have the most fun possible playing.

The most significant of my memories growing up with Kelly is during our one and only high school year together. I was a senior in high school, and Kelly was a freshman. I would drive Kelly to school each morning and, Kelly, as her "Mount" friends have now learned, was able to fall asleep instantaneously each morning in the car. I would turn up the music, blast the air conditioning, and even roll down the windows, but, nothing could disturb Kelly’s sleep. I guess there is something to the saying that those with clear consciences sleep soundly. I loved being Kelly’s "cool" older sister and showing her the ropes of high school - from how to make a school uniform skirt look cute to how to dance for homecoming. Everyone at our high school loved Kelly - from the freshmen to the seniors to the faculty and staff.

Kelly was my double’s tennis partner and, I couldn’t have asked her to put any more effort in than she did. I was three years older than her and, therefore, had played tennis for that much longer. Kelly, however, never backed down from the challenging practice sessions I would put her through. We were both so determined - we tried to perfect everything on the tennis court, from hitting 100 crosscourt forehands in a row past the service line to hitting specified targets on our first and second serves. Kelly now reminisces that I wouldn’t even let her get a drink in the 100 degree Florida weather until we reached a goal. After the tennis training, I would then lead a series of sprints, a long distance run, and conclude with a series of sit-ups. I needed a training partner, and Kelly never complained. In fact, she would always be the one encouraging me through our exercises.

One of Kelly’s finest moments was the morning of our city tennis championship. We had practiced our hearts out and were so excited for this day with the chance to beat the all-star doubles team from one of the local, and much larger public high schools. On the morning of the tournament, Kelly woke up with a stomach bug. I couldn’t believe it. Kelly slept the whole morning until it was time to leave for our match, and then she insisted that she was ready to go (which means that Kelly knew how much this match meant to me). We got Kelly some medicine on the way to the match and she stayed curled up in the now flu infested mini van until the moment the director announced our names to go on court. All of a sudden, Kelly popped up, gave me a high five, and asked ME if I was ready to play! Despite our Dad’s hesitation, Kelly and I started the match. We played our hearts out, and Kelly, amazingly, ran down every ball as if she wasn’t ready to give in to the flu at any second. Let me remind you that we lived in Tallahassee, FL...a match in April means 90 degree weather and insane humidity....not ideal, especially for a dehydrated red head. Kelly and I took the team to a third set, but we couldn’t pull off the win. Kelly collapsed after the match and we took care of her the rest of the day. It’s hard for me to believe that any other person would do this for their sister.

I think our tennis training paid off though. Because of her stellar tennis achievements and undeniably successful high school academic career, Kelly was able to go to her dream school, Mount St. Mary’s University, and play tennis there while majoring in Communications. Kelly just broke the Mount women’s tennis record this spring for the most doubles wins with her partner Samantha Pinchoff...something that she would never mention in her newspaper articles.

Now, onto Kelly’s life at the present moment. Kelly graduated from MSM’s in just 3 years. Therefore, she was able to start her MBA while playing her last year of tennis. So, this year, Kelly has been playing #1 singles and doubles at the division 1 level, is working a 20 hr/week communications graduate assistantship job, is taking a full load of MBA classes, and writes articles for The Emmitsburg News Journal. Kelly, when you read this, please forgive me...but, this is my one chance to brag about you! Now, most people would think that Kelly’s schedule sounds overwhelming. Kelly, however, loves it all. She balances all of this with a very active social and ministry-related life. I think that Kelly’s positive attitude definitely has been reflected through her writings for The Emmitsburg News Journal. One can tell that Kelly, who is only 22, not only is deeply intellectual, compassionate, and driven, but that she has something more to her. She has a faith that gives her such complete joy - a joy that is helplessly contagious to others.

Kelly visited me and my husband over this past Easter. While Kelly is definitely more mature and responsible (which age brings) than when she was a kid, most things about her have not changed. After a few days full of activities, I asked Kelly what her favorite part of the weekend was. She answered, "Best ball golf or watching you and Michael (my husband) fall asleep cuddled on the couch." Hmm...once again, Kelly shows that she is happiest when all those around her are happy; when the boys are dominating the girls in a best ball golf competition or when two are peacefully at sleep after a long day.

As Blessed Mother Teresa, one of Kelly’s favorite people of all time, said, "Give your hands to serve and your hearts to love." Kelly follows this statement to the max. Kelly will finish up her master’s degree this summer and then head out into the real world. I hope that just the little of Kelly’s life story that I have shared gives testament to all of you who have read this that there is goodness out there and hope for the future! Kelly, you amaze me!

Read other articles by Kelly Conroy