The Mighty Quin
Purdue student trustee juggles responsibilities and aspirations with the greatest of ease
As the state-appointed student representative on Purdue's Board of Trustees and a pre-professional medical student in the College of Health and Human Sciences with minors in organizational leadership and supervision, biology and psychology as well as plans to become both a doctor and a lawyer, Kelsey Quin is adept at juggling numerous roles and aspirations.
Quin grew up in Peru, Indiana, the "Circus Capital of the World" and began entertaining as a kiddy clown at age 4. She joined the Peru Amateur Circus as a performer at age 7, specializing in aerial silks (pictured inside the cover) and bungee trapeze.
"I was introduced to it at such a young age that it never seemed like a novelty to me. In Peru, going to circus practice is as common as going to Little League practice," says Quin, an accomplished athlete who also participated in soccer, track, cross country and basketball. "It's just what you do."
Although Quin, now a senior, recently "retired" as a performer in her hometown circus, which is limited to youth under the age of 21, it will always be one of her passions. She continues to serve as a volunteer and proudly took part in Peru's annual "Circus City Festival" this July.
But make no mistake, it's not a circus act that defines Kelsey Quin, but rather a commitment to doing her best and moving the world forward. In fact, she discovered her first passion even younger in life.
"I've known I wanted to be a doctor since I was 3 years old," says Quin, whose father serves as the on-site physician for Peru's circus as well as owning his own practice in internal medicine. She is considering specializing in dermatology, but also wants to earn a law degree and work in government health care policy and reform while still maintaining a medical practice.
So, why choose Purdue over Indiana University, which has both medical and law schools? For Quin, who was named the 2011 Distinguished Young Woman of Indiana and earned a scholarship to attend any college or university in the state, Purdue's rival in Bloomington was never a consideration.
"I was initially drawn to Purdue's strong tradition in science, especially biology, and when I came to West Lafayette for a campus tour I honestly and immediately fell in love," she says. "I knew it was the place for me to be and haven't regretted it a moment since.
"Although I'm obviously considering IU for medical school, I feel like a degree from Purdue is more prestigious globally and shows that you worked hard to earn what you actually learn."
Choosing to enroll in the newly formed College of Health and Human Sciences was also an easy decision. "I've always been interested in the human side of medicine, especially health and fitness, so it was perfect," she says.
Quin's path to Purdue's Board of Trustees was a bit more uncertain. After attending the 2013 Kent Weldon Conference for Higher Education in Indianapolis, she felt compelled to "do something" to help move Purdue and the world forward. After consulting with her advisors and faculty mentors, she applied for the position and began the rigorous selection process. Then, one morning in June, she answered a call from Gov. Mike Pence.
Girl on Fire When it comes to her success, Kelsey Quin is quick to credit her immediate and extended family both at Purdue and the Peru Amateur Circus, where this photo was taken. Behind Quin is her brother, Connor (left), a freshman at Purdue, and high school senior Adam Kirk (right), whose brother, Austin, is also a Boilermaker. (Photo by Charles Jischke)
He congratulated her on becoming one of only 10 finalists, praised her accomplishments and aspirations, and just as Quin was reaching for the tissue box in expectation of a generous "Thanks, but we've selected someone else," she was offered the position.
"I'm pretty sure I squeaked, but quickly gained my composure before thanking him and accepting what I consider to be a great honor."
Quin, whose two-year term as a Purdue trustee will end in June 2015, also gained quick footing in her responsibilities to represent both the needs of the students as well as the best interests of the University as a whole.
"I expected a more limited role, but each of the key initiatives in Purdue Moves reflects a focus on students and is designed to change the world," she says.
"We are extremely blessed to have an administration that will do whatever it takes to help students and to build something better and stronger for all of Purdue. But even as accomplished alumni, business people and government leaders, they realize I offer a different perspective and allow me to bring the ideas of our generation to the discussion."