Coming from a family of teachers, Kelly Richard ’17 understands the importance of good educators. She was a sophomore in high school when she decided teaching was her calling, and she dedicated her time at Elon to cultivating her passion for helping others.

The Teaching Fellow and English major with teacher licensure opened an Elon chapter of the national organization She’s the First, which promotes education for girls in developing countries. In addition to working with student groups on campus, Richard tutored at Elon’s Writing Center and volunteered with the Elon Academy, a college access and success program for local high school students. She is also a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Sigma Tau Delta honor societies, and a recipient of the Betty Lynch Bowman Scholarship.

For her Teaching Fellows research project, Richard studied the use of graphic novels to increase high school students’ understanding of Shakespeare’s plays. She argued that theatrical works such as Shakespeare’s are first and foremost meant to be seen, but because of time constraints and limited resources, students often simply analyze the text of his plays as they would a book. Her theory was that visual stimulation such as illustrations would aid in students’ comprehension of the works, particularly for those who find Shakespearean English difficult to understand.

She administered two tests to ninth grade students at Western Alamance High School – one based on standard teaching of Shakespeare’s texts and the other based on visual learning – and compared the difference in reading comprehension. Her goal was to make Shakespeare engaging for all students, with the potential to lead to new teaching practices in high school literature.

Richard studied in London in spring 2015 and spent the summer of 2016 in Hyderabad, India, in an independent study experience. While there, she worked as a curriculum team intern for VOICE 4 Girls, a group that organizes empowerment camps for girls. In her position, she helped write and structure curriculums for their programs. She spent two years doggedly pursuing the opportunity and ultimately got not only the internship but also a grant to cover the costs.

Richard’s ability to pursue the internship in India points to her independence and ability to thoughtfully negotiate difficulties, said Associate Professor of English Kim Pyne. “Alone in a country she had never visited, immersed in a culture radically different from her own, she met the challenge with serious reflection, willingness to step outside of her personal lens and comfort, and open communication,” Pyne said. “She was devoted to her own learning, but even more dedicated to the needs of students and colleagues.”

I know how powerful an educated woman can be, and I want to make it my life goal to give as many other young men and women the opportunities to succeed academically as I was, whether as a teacher or through a larger organization.

Next, Richard will continue building a career in education as she heads to Indonesia to teach English through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Originally from Apex, North Carolina, Richard plans to pursue a career as a high school English teacher or land a position within the nonprofit education sector.