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PROFILE: Kelsey McKelfresh
Cincinnatus Scholar Studies the Arts

Date: Feb. 26, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: Profiles Archive

"My mom's an elementary school music teacher, so I just grew up wanting to perform," says UC freshman Kelsey McKelfresh, a musical theater major in the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). McKelfresh says her first year in the program has been an eye-opening experience, as she's explored what happens on stage as well as behind the scenes.

Click here to see Kelsey at work in dance class.

McKelfresh, a native of Ft. Collins, Colo., is one of six UC freshmen awarded a full Cincinnatus scholarship to UC, which covers tuition, room and board and books. Last March, during her senior year in high school, she flew to Cincinnati for the Cincinnatus competition. She had already survived her another tough UC competition - the auditions for entrance into CCM.

"CCM is the best musical theater school in the country, so I had no doubt about wanting to come here. I got a notice about the Cincinnatus competition in the mail after I sent in my application to CCM."

McKelfresh says Ft. Collins is a small town of about 100,000 people approximately 70 miles north of Denver. As a high school student from a small town, she was amazed by the number of students at the competition. "At first, it was a little overwhelming but then it was so cool to get to meet and know everyone. I loved the essay portion of the competition, and we did a group activity that was just like doing a group project in high school. I was really impressed by Cincinnatus, and I was thrilled that they talked with me about the Honors Program. It made me really happy about coming here."

The graduate of Rocky Mountain High School was president of her high school National Honor Society and was active in school theater and chorus. During her junior high school years, she got involved in community service by performing with a group that would hold anti-drug programs in schools across Colorado and Wyoming. She was also a member of a chorus of teenagers from around the nation who would perform at national youth gatherings for the Lutheran church.

"Once people from my church saw us perform, they wanted a contemporary chorus. We decided that group should include people of all ages, and it's great, because I got to sing with my mom."

McKelfresh's father is director of residence life at Colorado State University. As she adjusts to living in a college dorm, she's probably getting a good idea about what her dad accomplishes at work. She says she quickly formed strong bonds with dorm residents and classmates. "I live on the Conservatory floor (in Siddall Hall), so we see each other in class and we see each other in the dorm. Plus, CCM's reputation brings in students from around the nation, so we're all discovering Cincinnati together."

Although McKelfresh is looking ahead to a career on the stage, she's learning all the ropes at CCM as part of her required training. "CCM has a well-rounded program in singing, dancing and acting, so we have technical mastery and craft in all three areas. Right now, I'm teching for a show and doing stagecraft stuff. After the opera people perform, we get up there and clean the stage and move the scenery. I'm learning all of the realms of the theater and because of that, I'm developing so much more of an appreciation of all that goes into it. I'm learning that every area is an art...not just mine."

McKelfresh says her eyes have been opened under the guidance of her professors, especially her vocal coach, Assistant Professor Roger Grodsky. "One of the things stressed in my acting class is that you really have to be yourself on stage before you can be someone else. Coming from a small town, I know college is for soul searching and for finding yourself, but at one time, I thought I was a lot farther ahead than I probably am. Just getting up on stage, allowing myself to be vulnerable, showing it's really scary but in the same way, it's really exciting."

To view previous UC profiles, go to the profiles archive.

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