On March 26, 2015, Lewis and Clark Community College student Lauren Michelle Kelly died at the age of 23, just months after completing her degree in Dental Hygiene.
Kelly was born with cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease that affects the mucous producing cells that become thick and clog the lungs.
Kelly accomplished many milestones throughout her life. At a young age, Kelly participated in softball, soccer, gymnastics and dance, but her greatest passion was riding and showing paint horses.
Kelly was named the winner of the American Junior Paint Horse Association Youth Member of the Year in the summer of 2010. From the age of 13, she also ran her own graphic design business named LMK Design, with several of her ads featured in various equine magazines.
As her health began to decline, Kelly shifted her focus toward academics. In the summer of 2014, Kelly was the first in the history of L&C’s Dental Hygiene program to be selected as a district student delegate to attend the American Dental Hygienists Association (ADHA) Annual Session.
Kelly graduated from L&C’s Dental Assisting program in May 2013, the Dental Hygiene program in December 2014 and was president of her class. She was also a peer mentor to many students throughout the two programs.
“Lauren was a natural leader. She did everything she could to lead and she was excited about becoming a professional,” L&C Dental Program Coordinator Chris Hallstead said.
After graduating from the Dental Hygiene program, Kelly posted on Jan. 14 via Facebook, “Education is something no one can ever take away from you. This road has been long and hard, but it has also been rewarding. I am so happy to be able to put a few extra letters behind my name. #RDH”
Some feel that diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, would define who they are as a person, but Kelly lived her life proving otherwise.
To learn more about CF or how you can get involved to make a change, visit cff.org.
Contact Hannah at firstname.lastname@example.org