Claire Kelling

Prepare for a life of COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP

Claire KellingIt’s rare for a high school senior to have heard of GobblerConnect. And it’s even more rare for said high school senior to peruse GobblerConnect.

But Claire Kelling searched the website for hours to look for organizations at Virginia Tech that would allow her to make a difference on campus.

She said, “In the beginning of my first semester, I was already an officer in Womanspace at Virginia Tech, an assistant coach for Special Olympics, participating in numerous other organizations, and starting my first research project.”

It was hard to nail down a time to get to talk with Claire following her nomination for this Aspire! Award—but for good reason. Her free time was filled up with planning last week’s vigil for Nicole Lovell. Claire rallied the campus to pay their respect, organized speakers, and reached out to the university for help in getting the word out. More than 100 community members came out to honor Nicole’s memory, and Claire’s humble leadership was behind it all.

And this vigil wasn’t the first large-scale event she has coordinated in her time at Virginia Tech. Claire and her peers are the woman-power behind the annual Take Back the Night Rally, an event that raises awareness of gender-based violence in our community. She recruits, advertises, organizes, and sees the event through by hosting it on the night-of.

Claire said, “I have a passion for giving a voice to those who are not heard on their own.”

She said she’s learning, especially in these past weeks, that her efforts have always been worth it. She said, “It is worth the tears, the pain, the stress, everything. At the end of it all, the smile on the face of those that you have affected, the hug that unmistakably says ‘thank you’—it makes it worth it.”

Her nominator said, “Claire has a strong commitment to community and great leadership skills. She cares about people. If she sees a need or a problem, she works hard to make the situation better. She is interested in and open to listening to others’ viewpoints and experiences and is extremely dedicated and dependable. She talks with people and not at them. Claire wants to help people and to end harm—her drive to curb abuse and to stop social injustice is strong.”

Claire coaches Special Olympics volleyball and basketball. She said, “I do it so that these athletes will feel empowered in their bodies and know that they can achieve great things.”

Last year, her volleyball team won the state championship. Another team from our area also attended the tournament but lost to her team in the finals.

Claire said, “I was able to exchange my gold medal with one of their silver medals. Every time I see that silver medal sitting on my desk, I know that we were all winners that day.”

I could list out all of Claire’s involvement at Virginia Tech, but we’d be here all day. Let’s just say: this girl jumped in. Just to name a few, though, Claire is president of Womanspace, president of The Student Power Network, sexual violence prevention council member, and apartment fellow in the Honors Residential College. She planned this year’s women’s studies conference, participates in a barbershop quartet and a women’s choir, and is a member of the Statistics Club and the Association for Women in Mathematics. She has led teams in both The Big Event and Relay For Life, she volunteers at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter, and, if you can believe it, there are dozens and dozens more things we could list off here.

Ranked first academically in her major, she’s graduating this spring with a dual degree in statistics and economics, with minors in women’s and gender studies and women’s leadership. In the fall, Claire will attend graduate school to pursue a PhD in statistics.

For a tenacity that touches both in- and out-of-classroom experiences, for a sense of bravery that only comes from rising against the status quo, and for her voice that isn’t afraid to speak for those without one, I’m honored to present the Aspire! Award for COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP to Claire Kelling.

2017-2018 Aspirations Breakfasts*

April 27, 2018
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.

*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.

Aspire! Awards History

Past Recipients

April 27, 2018 Recipients

Akshay Rajendran - Curiosity
Lea Neumann - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Hunter Anderson - Civility
Miguel Parrado - Courageous Leadership
Matthew Morency - Ut Prosim

Stephany Brown - Ut Prosim

Dan Maguire - Ut Prosim

March 23, 2018 Recipients

Travis Bauer - Curiosity
Ben Batman - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brian Kehs - Civility
Juan Hernandez - Courageous Leadership
Jaclyn Marmol - Ut Prosim

Krista Gwilliam - Courageous Leadership

February 23, 2018 Recipients

Sam Buck - Curiosity
Amy Chen - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jaclyn Abramson - Civility
Andrew Peck - Courageous Leadership
Bethany Lackey - Ut Prosim

Maggie Holmes – Curiosity

December 1, 2017 Recipients

DeAngelo Haynes - Curiosity
Hadley Carter - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Nick McDaniel - Civility
Stephanie Lemus-Ortiz - Courageous Leadership
Noah Jennings - Ut Prosim

Chris Wise – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 27, 2017 Recipients

Jordan Kuhn - Curiosity
Joseph Walker - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Harley Curran - Civility
Fahad Ashraf - Courageous Leadership
Julia Monroe - Ut Prosim

Laurie Fritsch – Curiosity

April 21, 2017 Recipients

Bobby Hollingsworth - Curiosity
Annemarie Bresson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Christopher Bardo - Civility
Nala Chehade - Courageous Leadership
Elizabeth Galbreath - Ut Prosim

Hillary KovacsUt Prosim

Robert and Kara JuliusUt Prosim
Jerry Colyer [posthumous award] – Ut Prosim

March 17, 2017 Recipients

Mitch Clements - Curiosity
Samantha Nichole DiBiaso - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Maria Jernigan - Civility
Manjot Kaur - Courageous Leadership
Stephen Pistoia, Jr. - Ut Prosim

Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership

February 17, 2017 Recipients

Danielle Jeffers - Curiosity
Colleen McGovern - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Min Kyung “Julie” Sim - Civility
Lamont “Gucci” Livingston - Courageous Leadership
Jacob Long - Ut Prosim

Alece Alderson – Civility

November 4, 2016 Recipients

Rhiannon Hasenauer - Ut Prosim
Zack Sever - Civility
David Gardner - Courageous Leadership
Zachary Hoopes - Curiosity
Bridger Johnson - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity

October 7, 2016 Recipients

Zachariah Ewen - Ut Prosim
Jordan Evans - Civility
Megan Lee Myklegard - Courageous Leadership
Alex Hamilton - Curiosity
Bryan Faulkner - Self-Understanding and Integrity

Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity

April 22, 2016 Recipients
Samantha Hall - Ut Prosim
Charelle Berry - Civility
Audrey Semel - Courageous
Jess King - Curiosity
Mike Schoka - Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Frances KeeneUt Prosim

John GrahamUt Prosim

March 18, 2016 Recipients
Joe Frazier – Civility
Nina Miller – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Jacob Rosenthal – Curiosity
Haley BurgessUt Prosim
Tanushri Shankar – Courageous

Susan Anderson – Courageous

February 19, 2016 Recipients
Javier González-Rocha – Self-Understanding and Integrity
Obaid Rehman – Civility
Claire Kelling – Courageous
Meghan McLoughlinUt Prosim
Erica Nagotko – Curiosity

Anthony Purcell – Civility

November 13, 2015 Recipients
Kelsi Faley – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Nivedha Balan – Civility
Rachel Cotton – Courageous
Ryan HopkinsUt Prosim
Caroline Amodeo – Curiosity

Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
and Integrity

October 2, 2015 Recipients
Walter Gonsiewski – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Seyi Olusina – Civility
Skyler Mueller – Courageous
Anastasia MatusiewiczUt Prosim
Natasha Laramie – Curiosity

Vera Kidd – Curiosity

April, 2015 Recipients
Ankit Saigal – Curiosity
Baker Martin – Courageous
Nicole Selz
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Brett MontagueUt Prosim
Conor Cosgrove – Civility

Residence Life Resource Officer John TarterUt Prosim

Robby MoserUt Prosim

March, 2015 Recipients
Juan de la Rosa Diaz – Courageous
Jamaica Sykes – Curiosity
Luke Birch
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jake VoorheesUt Prosim
Turki Saad Al-Zahrani – Civility

Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership

February, 2015 Recipients
Catherine Goggins – Courageous
Allison Laclede – Curiosity
Samuel Aguilar Chavez
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Larissa PeraraUt Prosim
Lauren Cashman – Civility

Jay Read – Civility

November 14, 2014 Recipients
Andrew George – – Courageous
Esther Moon – Curiosity
Kaleigh Leal – Self-Understanding
and Integrity
Stephen Bennett Ut Prosim
Philip Norman – Civility

Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity

October 3, 2014 Recipients
Patrick AckerUt Prosim
Ethan Poole – Civility
Danielle Smalls – Courageous
Emily Neer – Curiosity
Austin Dickey – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Robin Boucher – Curiosity

April 25, 2014 Recipients
Brent AshleyUt Prosim
Anna Isserow – Civility
Daniel Evans – Courageous
Jacalyn Polis – Curiosity
Neal Moriconi – Self-Understanding
and Integrity

Tricia SmithUt Prosim

March 21, 2014 Recipients
Meredith Cahill
Natasha Chadha
Wes Williams
Emma Cohen
Emily Blair

Belinda Pauley

February 21, 2014 Recipients
Meghan Gilliam
Steven Gethard
Kylie Gilbert
Ashley Taylor
Emily Brown

Kelley Woods-Johnson

November 8, 2013 Recipients
Jordan Disney
Kelly Berry
Daniel Pierce-Parra
Anusha Rizvi
Camryn Sorg

Lyndsy Manz

October 11, 2013 Recipients
Rob Grimm
John Turbyfill
Brendan Craig
Thomas Friss
Chris Atkins

Meredith Hampton