Newman alumnus Cody Kelly finds success after hardship

Newman alumnus Cody Kelly

Cody Kelly started his education at Newman University in 2009, only to be thrown a curveball within the first few weeks. He'd already been dealing with the loss of his father when he decided to begin his journey in pre-medicine at Newman. And then he got the news that would change his plan.

"It was a pretty stressful time of my life. And then during my first semester, I was diagnosed with lymphoma," said Kelly. He had to stop attending school at that point in order to go through his chemotherapy treatment.

Kelly said, "I started my semester and about two weeks into it, I noticed a swollen lymph node above my right collarbone. I thought it was stress and a few days later, I noticed one under my left arm. Then I knew it was time to go and get checked out."

His doctor diagnosed him with lymphoma and told Kelly he'd have about six months of chemotherapy. The doctor also recommended that Kelly stop his course work while going through the healing process.

"I took his advice and decided to take the first semester off," said Kelly. By the time the next semester came around, Kelly decided he would take one five-hour course to ease his way back in. "After the chemo was over, I had to start radiation treatments," he said, "so I wanted to get back in going slowly."

He was told he was cancer free about a year after his treatments and he forged ahead with his studies. "The first year was rough. I was still a little down and out."

Through the whole process, Kelly attributes his determination and drive to the professors who guided him along the way.

"I enjoyed the community. The teachers understood I was going through a lot and they were happy to work with me," he said. "At a time when I could have fallen off the map, they pushed me to do well. It would have been too easy to just stop."

Some of the professors who supported Kelly were Professor of Chemistry David Shubert, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology Stacy Jones, Ph.D, and Professor Emeritas of Biology Surendra Singh, Ph.D.

He was also very thankful of the help that Newman provided him through scholarship funds. Transferring from Fort Scott Community College, Kelly looked into public and private schools for the best scholarships opportunities. "Newman was great about helping," he said. "It was an awesome scholarship. You hear about private colleges costing an arm and a leg, but that wasn't the case with me. The amount of money they were willing to help me with academically was tremendous."

After his diagnosis and treatment of lymphoma, he realized his original path of pre-medicine was not for him. He still wanted to be in the medical field, but he didn't want to be the doctor that ended up giving the bad news to his patients.

After graduating from Newman with his biology degree, he looked into physical therapy as a career.

"I started shadowing a physical therapist at a skilled nursing home, working with the old-timers," Kelly said. "I loved it. You learn a lot from what they’ve been through in their "x" number of years."

Kelly recently graduated from Wichita State University and has accepted a position at Accelacare Physical Therapy in Garden City, Kan. "I love making a difference with how they (the patients) are feeling and their emotional status, too. I feel like I'm making a huge impact on their life."

Kelly grew up in a small town and loved the same feeling he got while at Newman. While going through the trials he went through he said, "I think at a bigger university, I might have gotten lost in the shuffle. The teachers at Newman helped me stay on track. They were very understanding."

Even though he enjoyed his time at WSU and the education he received there, he would have considered Newman for his physical therapy degree if it were offered.

"If Newman offered the degree, I definitely would have looked into it. I loved my time at Newman and the professors who were there for me along the way."

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