“Kelly, It’s Glenn from the Alumni Association board. You’ve been chosen for the 2018 Young Alumni Achievement Award!”
This is how Kelly Jean Kemmener, through a phone call, discovered both her nomination and her award, after Tailynn Pinckney, her 24-year-old daughter secretly submitted her a year before.
The Young Alumni Achievement Award, according to the ESU website, “honors a recent graduate (within fifteen years) who had demonstrated exceptional ability and made significant strides in their chosen profession.” The winner of this award is the former “non-traditional” ESU student Kemmener, currently the executive Director of Monroe County Habitat for Humanity but first of all a mother.
In her late twenties, Kemmener switched from being a waitress to a student. She wanted to go back to school in order to subsist to the needs of her little family.
From Northampton Community College, where she was studying for an associate degree in Business Administration, to ESU where she graduated when she was 33 years old with a degree in Business Management, Kemmener tried her best.
“When I came back to school, I was so grateful to be there.” Kemmener needed a second to continue her story. She was moved. All of these memories brought a large smile to her face.
Her daughter was 11 years old when she came in ESU. While she was juggling with her daughter’s homework and her own, Pinckney once asked why she was doing it: “I am trying to get a better life for us,” she answered.
While she was trying to be a good example for her kid, Kemmener came back to ESU as a public administration student and finished with a PhD.
After that, Kemmener was selling insurance, but she “wanted more” and she eventually ended up as the Executive Director of Monroe Habitat for Humanity.
“It sounded amazing to help people,” she explained. Kemmener managed to do everything in order to provide homes to the people in need.
Passionate by her work, Kemmener still can’t believe that she won the award : “I am getting an award for doing something that I love. I am so grateful.”
The crystal award is now on a shelf in the living room to remind her the time that she spent at ESU. At first, she was afraid to not fit in, but she immediately felt comfortable in the diverse ESU community where you can find young and older students from different ethnicities.
“It is not about money. It is about loving what you are doing,” Kemmener said.
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