2015 Most Valuable Student Scholar
University of South Carolina—Biology Major
Sponsored by Grafton, W. Va., Lodge No. 308
Elks scholars know how to turn personal experiences into effective action for social change. This is certainly true for Kelsey Lantz, who turned a debilitating accident into an opportunity to help others.
The trajectory of Kelsey’s life was significantly altered after she sustained a concussion during a soccer match. Although injuries were something the young athlete had experienced before, this time was different. Her injury significantly affected her autonomic nervous system, and led her to develop Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a serious neurological disorder that has led to myriad of symptoms and lengthy medical treatments.
During the ensuing treatment, Kelsey realized the prevalence and severity of head and brain injuries among student athletes and the lack of awareness.
“I didn’t want another athlete to suffer the mental and physical hardships that I face every day,” says Kelsey. “I recognized a great need for athlete, coach and parent education.”
With her personal experiences and passion, Kelsey promoted a program called Heads Up Concussion Awareness. Through her work, Kelsey spoke to hundreds of parents, athletes, and coaches about concussions and the importance of early treatment and thorough recovery. She also lobbied her state government for increased awareness of head injuries among athletes, and wrote an amendment to the bill on concussion protocol to better address the health of student athletes throughout the state.
Her experiences with concussions and brain injuries not only affected Kelsey’s life now, but has inspired her to continue to help others in the future.
“I have a clear vision of spending my future in the field of neurology, caring for, treating and researching brain injuries,” says Kelsey.
Now, thanks to her Elks family, Kelsey will have the opportunity to expand her horizons in college and pursue her interest in neurology to help other brain injury survivors.
“I am honored to be named an Elks scholar. It means I am now a member of a new family, the Elks family,” says Kelsey. “Being an Elks scholar is about an opportunity to obtain an education so that I can spend my life changing and improving the lives of many.”
For 2015-16, the Elks National Foundation allocated $2.74 million to fund the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, which includes 500 four-year Most Valuable Student Scholarships. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, visit www.elks.org/enf/scholars.