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Following a Passion to Improve Mental Health

Accelerator helps Kelly Porter chart a career course beyond graduation

Kelly Porter
Class of 2020, University of Pennsylvania

Vanderbilt Accelerator 2017

In high school, Kelly Porter developed an enduring interest in neuroscience — specifically, the biological process of mental illness. That interest is propelling her in two possible career directions.

Along one track, says Kelly, “I hope to be a lawyer working to improve the lives of those in the criminal justice system who suffer from mental illnesses.” Along the other, once she started college she became interested in health care policies that affect mental health.

A summer business program, she realized, “would be a great way to get a taste of business.”

From her research, she expected Accelerator to be intense. It was. In fact, Kelly says, “Accelerator has been a whirlwind.”

She credits the program with helping reveal her affinity for marketing and branding — subjects she plans to study more deeply in courses back at the University of Pennsylvania. She also says that the program improved her presentation skills so that nowadays she actually looks forward to presenting to others. She particularly enjoyed the Accelerator projects in which she and her teammates designed products for client companies. “The coaches and professors are amazing,” she adds, “and I really benefited from their feedback.”

Most of all, says Kelly, she learned a skill — networking — that she can apply to any future endeavor. “I have obtained so many connections and have interacted with so many clients,” she says. “Before this program, I don’t think I’ve ever had this much ease in talking with those who have more experience than me.”

Fun Fact: In the past year, Kelly met both former Vice President Joe Biden and the president of Mongolia.