From the Field to the Workforce
MaKayla Kelby, Husky Fellowship recipient at The Sports Institute, throwing shotput at an indoor track event. Photo Credit: Red Box Pictures
MaKayla Kelby has been a standout performer in track & field since she was in middle school. Born and raised in Kansas City, she was a four-time high school state discus champion and two-time champion in shot put – and one of nine other students from her high school to sign Division I letters of intent in the fall of her senior year.
The beauty of UW’s campus and the strength of their health sciences program is what ultimately drew MaKayla to Seattle. MaKayla immediately found a strong community at UW through UW Athletics, her team and coaches, and her role managing campus and community relations for the Black Student Athlete Alliance.
MaKayla had two competitive seasons under her belt and was within striking distance of breaking several UW school records – and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, turning her world upside down as it paused every part of her daily routine and ultimately impacted her confidence on and off the field. While her competitive season was suspended and her future in track and field unknown, she began looking for opportunities to advance her professional development in areas that aligned with her academic studies in nutrition and physiology. That’s when MaKayla found the Husky Fellowship – and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
“The pandemic had a unique impact on student-athletes”, said MaKayla. “We’re so used to competing and having so much of our schedules and routines focused on that. With our season suspended, it made me ask a question that many athletes ask once they’re done competing: ‘What am I gonna do now?’”.
It’s not an uncommon question for collegiate athletes to ask. Less than two percent of them go on to play their sport professionally, which heightens the importance of providing student-athletes professional development opportunities they otherwise might not have had. Many of them possess the traits that organizations are looking for, and MaKayla was no exception
During her time at The Sports Institute, MaKayla worked on many different projects ranging from assisting with educator surveys about the status of physical activity in their school to background research on common athlete injuries in track and field. Her ability and willingness to contribute wherever she was needed exemplifies her selflessness, focus and drive – qualities that make a difference on the field and in the workforce.
MaKayla has begun her senior year, but still has three years of eligibility in track and field due to the suspended 2020 season. As her education continues, MaKayla will be able to use the skills she’s learned during her Fellowship in the classroom and beyond, but what impacted her the most with regard to her experience was her personal growth.
“The Husky Fellowship experience impacted my development in more ways I can speak of”, said MaKayla It’s impacted both my academic and professional development in communication and confidence. Learning how to better communicate allowed me to time manage and balance my work, competition, and life schedule. Communication also gave me the confidence to make independent decisions regarding work and sticking with them. This experience was once in a lifetime, and I am so grateful to forever be a part of this team.”