The Oxford English Dictionary does not define the term “scholar-athlete,” but Emory & Henry College has its own living, breathing example. Kellie Flaherty, a senior from South Lake, Texas, has revealed herself to be the true embodiment of a scholar-athlete. A biology major and chemistry minor in the classroom and a midfielder and captain on the Wasps’ women’s soccer team, Flaherty has taken on all challengers in her race to the top.
“Kellie leads by example,” said E&H Head Women’s Soccer Coach Linda Schirmeister-Gess. “She performs as a true role model, inspiring all those around her. Whatever she puts her mind to, she invests herself in fully. Kellie strives not because she feels obliged to, but because she loves what she does.”
Flaherty’s academic success and athletic performance earned her semifinalist status for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, a full postgraduate award to study at the University of Oxford in England. According to Flaherty, competitive Rhodes nominees have many things in common: exemplary academic performance, research experience, involvement in their campus community, competition in intercollegiate athletics and extensive travel.
From this, it is evident why Flaherty is Rhodes Scholar material. She is a perennial fixture on the E&H Dean’s List and a four-time All-ODAC Academic Team honoree. She did summer research with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2011 on an anti-aging protein. This past summer, Kellie worked with General Electric on issues related to bacteria growing in nuclear power facilities, where her research helped save the Fortune 500 Company $500,000.
On campus, Flaherty has been a resident advisor for the past three years, is on the Fellowship of Christian Athletes leadership staff, has managed the biology lab for the past two years and is currently serving as president of Beta Beta Beta Biology Honor Society and the American Chemical Society.
She has been a leader for her teammates on and off the soccer field, helping the Wasps earn a pair of berths in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament.
“Kellie is a one-of-a-kind player in that she refuses to settle,” added Gess. “Her continuous urge to learn, compete and be the best version of herself possible is unmatched by anything I have ever seen before from a student. She is committed and loyal, which is reflected in her success on and off the field and in her impact on the lives of those around her.”
She has studied abroad with Emory & Henry on two separate occasions. In the Spring of 2010 she traveled to Costa Rica to study tropical biology and during May 2012 studied cross-cultural psychology, culminating in a trip to Poland and the Czech Republic.
“Regardless of whether I actually get the Rhodes Scholarship or not, filling out the application solidified why I want to become a physician’s assistant and do medical mission work abroad,” said Flaherty. “Writing my personal statement really brought everything together and revealed why I have the passions that I do. Each little piece of what I have done through my college career has shown me why I want to help people and be on the forefront of making a difference in the world.”
She believes that her beloved College in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is what has prepared her so well for her future.
“Being a student at Emory & Henry has provided so many experiences that you wouldn’t get at a large university,” Flaherty said. “Because of this, I have very strong personal relationships with my professors and coaches. Emory has given me the opportunity to hold many leadership positions and discover the impact I want to have as a professional through studying abroad and being a member of the soccer team. All of this combined has made me well-rounded in addition to the liberal arts education that I have received here at Emory & Henry.”
It remains to be seen if the self-styled “premier dictionary of the English language” will add scholar-athlete to its more than 600,000 entries, but Emory & Henry’s faithful fans and supporters can be certain that Kellie Flaherty will continue to give reason for its inclusion.