Shirley Kelly has worked for the University of Florida since Spring 1967 – nearly 55 years! During her time at UF, she has impacted the lives of countless students and helped motivate and inspire students to reach their goals. As the first African American hired in engineering at the University of Florida, her contributions have helped to shape a culture of belonging and achievement.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work at UF ChE?
A: I enjoy the people I work with, but most of all I enjoy working with the students.
Q: How do you hope to inspire the next generation?
A: I hope to inspire the next generation by being a leader. I want to be able to earn the student’s trust and there are two main ways of doing so: Motivation and Inspiration. I want to motivate them to achieve and be all they can be in meeting their goals. I want to instill in them a sense of belonging, and the thrill of achievement. I also want to inspire them to change the way they might think and feel about themselves so they will want to take positive action. I tell them that they can be whatever they want to be, and that no reward is promised other than the reward that comes from within, that is the sense of personal satisfaction.
Q: Do you have an inspiring UF story to share?
A: After Mr. Jim Sharp had passed away suddenly, I was approached by Dr. Tim Anderson (ChE department chair at the time) and asked to take on the position of Undergraduate Coordinator with Dr. Dale Kirmse. Dr. Anderson noticed that the students loved to be in the office talking to me. I told Dr. Anderson that I was unaware of the requirements for that position. He said that I was performing some of those duties already, and therefore, the transition to Academic Advising would be relevant. To tell the truth, that was the best advice someone has ever given me, because he saw something in me that I did not see in myself. I loved working with the students then and I still love working with them today.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received, and who gave it to you?
A: My mom guided me through some of the most important years of my life. My father died when my siblings and I were very young, so she was both my mother and my father. She taught us to love and respect all mankind, never hate anyone, and always be the best that we can be.
Q: What fun fact would you like students (current and alumni) as well as faculty and staff to know about you?
A: I am a leader and hero among most of the students that I have assisted over the years from various countries and around the world. Most of the students have become my family. I have attended weddings, graduation ceremonies, and visited with them after they left Gainesville. I keep in contact with a lot of alumni.
Q: What do you do for fun, hobbies, or outside interests?
A: I love to travel visiting other countries, meeting different people, and seeing how the other part of the world works and lives. My hobbies are crocheting and baking cakes. I also attend and work at Macedonia Baptist Church.
Current position: Graduate Academic Advisor
Started working at the University of Florida Spring 1967
Retired – Fall 2003
Returned to the University of Florida as OPS – Spring 2004