Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting Concordia's May 2020 graduates.
Kelsey Kleba graduates this Saturday with her undergraduate degree in education, and she credits her older sister Rachel, her high school teachers at Lake Country Lutheran in Hartland where she was valedictorian, and CUW’s Christian volleyball and top-notch education programs with making it a memorable four years.
“The primary reason I looked into Concordia was my sister graduated in occupational therapy and played on the soccer team. I had a chance to visit campus a lot and experience the friendly, Christ-like atmosphere. It really started to feel like home after awhile.
“The education program was also a huge draw for me,” Kleba added. “So many of my teachers were CUW graduates or graduates of other Concordias.” Included among that group is her father, a 1975 Concordia St. Paul alumnus, who Kleba termed one of her biggest inspirations in education. Most importantly, however, was the Christian element she found intertwined in every meeting involved in the college decision making process and every education class.
“Two of my professors – Dr. Jim Pingel and Dr. Adam Paape – claimed that in every power point they produce they make sure to leave a slide for God. It is a small gesture, but it carries such a giant meaning. It’s a motto that I will carry into my career.”
One of her fondest memories came during a mission trip to Paintsville, Kentucky in conjunction with Good Neighbors, helping people with jobs struggling to make ends meet each week. “These people didn’t have a stable roof over their heads, or insulation to keep them warm, but they had some of the most real and wholesome smiles I have ever seen. One thing I remember most are the relationships. Within a week, people I barely knew from Concordia became some of my closest friends.”
Kleba has accepted a call to Sheboygan Lutheran High and will be teaching Algebra and Geometry in the fall, along with coaching one of their volleyball teams. A four-year volleyball standout for Falcon head coach Janelle Katz, Kleba said that was another factor in her decision to attend CUW. “I wanted a program that was Christ-centered, friendly and focused on the student in student athlete.
“The minute I met with Coach Katz and the players at summer camp, I knew that the checked all the boxes on my summer list,” added Kleba. “There are not that many universities where you can attend chapel every day, have devotions with your volleyball team and pray before nearly every class. Concordia was truly an answer to my prayers.”
The Falcons won the NACC Tournament her freshman year and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament for the first time in school history. “So many of the girls from that team are still some of my closest friends and I am grateful for that experience,” said Kleba.
She was also involved in Chapel Choir throughout college, served as a National Youth Gathering Stage Host last summer for the triennial event held in Minneapolis, and was the “Christmas at Concordia” banquet speaker this past December.
Kleba is moving to Sheboygan several weeks after graduation to begin becoming familiar with the community. Next summer will mark her wedding to Henry Jensen, a physical therapy graduate student.
Kleba and her 2020 classmates will be honored at a virtual degree conferral ceremony on Saturday, May 16. They will be celebrated in person at the December commencement celebration. These changes are in response to the Coronavirus. To learn more about Concordia’s response, click here.
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