Most students take a gap year to work, volunteer, or travel. Chesley is not most students, however, taking her gap year to earn a Masters degree at a top-ranked university.
Hailing from Detroit, Chelsey majored in English on a pre-med track at University of Michigan, completing an array of internships and receiving certification as a doula. In between her undergraduate studies and medical school, Chelsey wanted to explore her dual passions for writing and healthcare. So she enrolled in a one-year graduate program at Columbia University that proved a perfect fit. It was an opportunity afforded her, in part, through the Battier Take Charge Foundation, and this was not the first time the foundation and her interest in health overlapped.
In addition to her undergraduate financial scholarship and the deposit for her graduate program, Chelsey notes the comprehensive support offered through the foundation’s biannual retreats. “These retreats have a strong focus on professional development, but also on health. They are an important space for us Battier Scholars to talk, focus on next steps, share resources, and navigate opportunities, but they also embody holistic health and allow us to heal.”
In addition to the retreats, Chelsey credits the foundation with getting her to the point where she is now as a medical school student at the Boonshoft School of Medicine at Wright State University. “With the foundation, you bring your authentic self and there is no pressure. I never felt like I needed to stay on a path. That is largely why I’ve stuck it out and why I’ve gotten to where I am.”
While Chelsey is undecided on what medical field in which she will focus, she refrains from defining her journey with a prescribed course. “As long as I end up in a white coat, I’m happy.”
Battier Take Charge Foundation: Tell us where you are and what you are studying!
Anthony: I am a senior at Howard University in Washington D.C., majoring in civil engineering.
BTCF: How did you decide on Howard?
A: For several years, I attended a school in my hometown of Miami in which my classmates and peers were dissimilar from me in terms of race and background. I knew I wanted a different experience for college and decided on a HBCU [Historically black colleges and universities]. Howard was one of the most academically challenging and so I applied. I knew it would be a stretch, but I was accepted and as soon as I stepped foot on campus, it felt like I was home.
BTCF: What about civil engineering excites you?
A: I grew up volunteering and being service-minded. I also grew up looking around my community at abandoned buildings and seeing so much in disrepair. Not everyone has the same resources, so if we can, we need to make things better for everyone. We need to modernize and rebuild communities. I see the power in buildings – in schools, in housing – I see giving people a reason to want to do better in these buildings. That is why civil engineering is so important; it’s the chance to make people’s lives better. BTCF actually helped me find an internship with an amazing civil engineering firm for the past two summers - I have learned so much and met some incredible people.
BTCF: How would you define the Battier Scholars experience?
A: It is a complete blessing. I now have a different outlook on life. The foundation is consistently doing two things: giving to me, and pushing me. Also, I was raised by a single mother and this is the first time I have had a group of people (not just one person) supporting me, caring for me, and providing a loving spirit. And … I am big Miami Heat fan and grew up with a poster of Shane on my wall. I tell everyone I meet that Shane Battier gave me a scholarship, has hosted me at his lake house…no one believes it!
BTCF: What do you remember about your Take Charge interview?
A: I told the team “you have Scholars at a list of great schools, but you don’t have Howard University on your list yet. I can provide that.” It was a way for me to differentiate myself.
BTCF: What do you remember about finding out you were a recipient?
A: I was at graduation and Shane stood up to speak and said my name. As soon as I realized it, I broke down and started crying. Later, when I was told the financial amount, it was the exact amount of the gap from what Howard offered in aid. It was truly life-changing, and my hard work had come to fruition