Kelsey D.

Undergraduate Recipient

"Describe an achievement or rewarding experience that you are most proud of accomplishing while living with CF, and how it has molded the person you have become."

I recall from my personality psychology class that there are four ways to respond to adversity. The first is succumbing to it or ultimately accepting defeat. The second is survival with impairment, which would show a decrease from normal baseline functioning. The third is recovery or returning to the baseline level of functioning. The last way to respond to adversity is by thriving or exceeding the normal level of functioning.

Imagine that CF is analogous to lifting a huge boulder. After lifting the boulder I can lift any heavy rock with ease. If I had never been born with CF, lifting a heavy rock would be a much more difficult task. CF has conditioned me to thrive with every challenge that is thrown at me. In the face of adversity I have accomplished many feats. Although I take great pride in my numerous triumphs, my most significant achievement is one that comes from within. The realization that my own self-worth is far greater than the sum of my achievements has allowed me to reach the ultimate goal – happiness.

Awards, honors, and titles are all very impressive to achieve while having CF, but they do not mean anything without happiness. My spirit is what has allowed me to thrive with CF; and it will be there even if CF takes away everything else.


Kelsey D.'s Artwork


This is a painting I created of my brother playing on the beach. My brother is one of the most important people in my life. He has always supported me and cared for me. When I was growing up I wanted to be exactly like him. Cystic fibrosis is difficult to fight every day, but so is a big brother. Matt never treated me differently because I have CF. He only helped me to realize my own strength and that CF does not limit me.

Kelsey D.'s Achievements

  • Psychology Scholars Program
  • Delta Delta Delta Sorority
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars
  • Phi Sigma Theta National Honor Society
  • Varsity Soccer (2010 – 2012)
  • Kosair Children's Hospital Youth Advisory Council (2011 – 2012)
  • Valedictorian (2012)
  • Dean's List (Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014)
  • ADHD Research Assistant (2013 – 2014)
  • Lifeguard (2013 – Present)