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PSS Summer '12

A Rain Cloud’s Silver Lining

Kelsey Lee

KELSEY LEE ’12

Hometown: Oak Park, California

Major: Anthropology

Beyond HWS: Lee will enroll in a master’s program at University of Edinburgh in Social Anthropology and Social Policy

  • Minored in public policy with a focus on development
  • Studied abroad in Ireland, where she learned falconry
  • Civic Leader at the Geneva Boys and Girls Club
  • Peer Mentor for William Smith College first years
  • Interned at California Wildlife Center and the Lemur Conservation Foundation

For some, it takes a particularly inspirational class or teacher to help guide them to their future path. For Kelsey Lee ’12, it took a rainstorm.

Interested in the Romani and nomads from a young age, Lee completed a project about reactive attachment disorder in Romanian orphans while still in high school. However, an interest in animals led her to attend Hobart and William Smith with the intent of majoring in biology. That all changed when she took an anthropology class and rediscovered her passion.

“I love anthropology because, as a field, it requires me to inquire further and converse with a diverse range of people about difficult topics,” explains Lee. “Although I only recently had the opportunity to take a class with him, Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Anderson was really responsive and integral in letting me write and ask questions that revolved around my interests, which inspired and encouraged me to delve deeper.”

Choosing to study abroad in Galway, Ireland, Lee arrived only to learn that her initial volunteer assignment had fallen through. Exploring the city in search of other opportunities, she was caught in a rainstorm and dashed in to what she thought was a hotel entrance. Lee quickly realized that she had stumbled upon a refugee center that catered to displaced people from all over the world, including the Romani who had so long held her interest.

“When I learned that the center offered a volunteer program, I immediately signed up to serve as a homework tutor for the children there,” explains Lee. “It was a wonderful experience that gave me the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and hear their stories. Long term, I want to help nomadic peoples, especially the Romani, address refugee and human rights issues.”