Life, however, had unexpected twists. Kelly navigated into the airline industry. Leveraging her language skills, she took to the skies as a flight attendant, crisscrossing routes to Latin America and Spain. In October 2022, the Oden Institute welcomed Kelly into its ranks, where she embraced the role of Senior Administrative Programs Coordinator. Reflecting on this transition, Kelly remarked, "I miss using my Spanish, but I'm learning so much at the Oden Institute. It's been fun to start over and dive into new things."
Notably, Kelly hasn't entirely shelved her linguistic prowess. One of Kelly's distinctive strengths lies in her ability to infuse a cultural touch into administrative exchanges. She communicates seamlessly with HR departments of Spanish-speaking visiting researchers. This linguistic dexterity adds a personal and welcoming dimension to the administrative processes, creating an inclusive environment for international collaborators.
Her multifaceted responsibilities include supporting the visitors program, overseeing researcher onboarding, and providing crucial assistance to O'Donnell postdoc fellows and Moncrief interns. Enthusiastically, Kelly expressed, "Joining Oden after having worked in education has been great. It's demanding, and I enjoy the many new challenges."
Beyond her professional commitments, Kelly finds an athletic outlet in pickleball—a sport seamlessly blending activity and recreation. She revealed, "I spend a lot of time now on pickleball. I love to be active, and it's fun. You're not thinking about working out — you're just playing a game," she explained. As part of a neighborhood group and a city league for pickleball, Kelly has appreciated making new friends and building a new community. She also loves to garden and enjoys the occasional round of golf with her husband.
Amidst her bustling schedule, Kelly stays connected to Latin American culture through Spanish-language movies, reveling in each region's rich diversity. As her sons embark on their educational journeys, Kelly embraces a new chapter as an empty nester.
Expressing contentment with her Oden Institute role, Kelly shared, "This job ticks all of the boxes: fulfilling, academically oriented, close to home, and with great colleagues." Her sentiments harmonize with the institute's ethos of fostering collaboration and intellectual stimulation.
Kelly's journey—from a high school Spanish teacher to a globe-trotting flight attendant and now a key figure at the Oden Institute—reflects her resilience and adaptability. With passion driving her professional pursuits and pickleball adding a playful rhythm to her life, Kelly embodies the spirit of versatility and enthusiasm at the heart of the Oden Institute.