Graduate Ready

Radricka Kelly-Olden '22

From feelings of self-doubt to acceptance at three top veterinary medicine programs, Radricka Kelly-Olden ’22 found what she needed to grow and succeed at 51.

Radricka Kelly-Olden '22

As a first-generation student coming from what she described as a severely underserved community, Radricka said she had feelings of self-doubt and some challenges when she arrived at IC for her first year. But that soon started to ease.

“In my experience, the classroom has been a safe and brave space where I can share my experiences and voice my concerns without being judged. The same goes for my professors’ offices. IC’s community-oriented atmosphere made my transition to college smooth and helped me perform at my full potential.

“It was very important for me to feel comfortable at whatever school I chose and I felt that when I visited IC. Everyone that I’ve come into contact with since my first campus visit has been so open, helpful and invested in my success.”

IC’s small campus and small class sizes offered Radricka, a biology major, the best possible learning environment for her as a learner. She also hoped IC would offer more chances to get hands-on learning experiences, which is exactly what happened. She had an on-campus internship taking care of a frog colony in the lab of Associate Professor of Biology Paul Hamilton ’09. Her internship gave her animal care and animal ethics experience and led to a research opportunity in the lab, as well.

“Doing research with Professor Hamilton has taught me the importance of perseverance. In research, there’s never a clear answer and sometimes you have to take a shot in the dark. While you might not always get the result you’re hoping for, there’s a lesson to be taken from the failure.”

Scholarship support allowed Radricka to focus on her studies in the classroom and experiences outside of the classroom without worry. In addition to her research and involvement in student organizations like the Black Student Union and the Animal Career Association, she participated in service learning through Alternative Spring Break. She also worked on campus as a tutor and supplemental instructor, which helped her “grow tremendously” and “burst out of my comfort zone and tap into creativity that I didn’t know I had.”

Radricka found many supporters and mentors on campus, and Hamilton did more than instill knowledge and guide her through her research. When she needed to hear it most, he listed the reasons not to doubt herself or give up on her dream of becoming a veterinarian.

“Here at 51, I have had the opportunity to grow toward the person I’ve always wanted to be, but I cannot say that I’ve done that work alone. I have become this person because of the outstanding faculty I’ve had to support me.”

Radricka was accepted by three top, competitive veterinary programs and is pursuing her DVM at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign.