Kaleigh O’Donnell // Student Story

October 18, 2018

Kaleigh is a two time Quad team member working on a joint project between El Paso County and Colorado Springs addressing barriers to accessing social services in our community.

Colorado Springs has always been home for me. Born at Memorial Hospital and raised just west of the Downtown area, I’ve been lucky enough to see Pikes Peak almost every day of my life. I attended Palmer High School where I had the honor to serve on Student Council and play sports like volleyball and soccer. Currently, I ’m studying Communication at Pikes Peak Community College, although I plan to study Political Science and American History once I graduate with my associate’s degree in 2019. I hope to one day leave my mark on the city of Colorado Springs by being active in local government. My family has been a large influence on my call to public service.

My family has organized special events all over Colorado for the last 35 years; many of my favorite memories are centered around the experiences these events allowed me to have. From meeting political activists such as Rev. Al Sharpton to befriending some of the most fearless acrobatic pilots in the country, working alongside my family has been a point of pride for as long as I can remember. These events have allowed me to see the power of community identity, even in hard times. I’ll never forget the power of watching thousands of soldiers march down Tejon street during the Welcome Home Parades in the mid 2000’s, welcoming the troops back from their tours in Iraq, and later Afghanistan, was the least our citizens could do to say thank you to the soldiers and the huge sacrifices they had to make; and we did it together.  Knowing that my family helped the whole city show their pride, and express our thank you to our troops, has always left a patriotic impression on me; it’s certainly shown me how important it is to come together and show support as a community. Currently, I work with my parents to promote their events. In addition to this, our family business works to raise money for school bond campaigns across the state, The DeAngelis Center, and other not-for-profit organizations.

I truly believe that our world is preparing for a new era of leadership. It will take the best and brightest to usher in prosperity and growth for all. Being a part of the Quad has allowed me to hone my skills as I prepare to enter the professional workforce. In addition to connecting me with like-minded and highly enthusiastic student peers, the Quad has helped me meet those in the Pikes Peak region who are already working to bring better futures to the people they strive to serve.  This experience has not only given me a great opportunity, but great confidence in myself. As a young woman, finding the strength in my voice has been an arduous journey. Working on the projects I have been a part of has taught me the power of my creative conscious, my ability to deliver compelling presentations, and my overall confidence in my ability to perform in a competitive setting.  I have developed skills crucial to my success while receiving constructive criticism from my team guides (Beka and Jake) as well as my academic advisors. The Quad has ultimately helped me build a new appreciation for my self and the dream that I have for the future.

After school, I hope to either continue on with the family business or cast my lot in the municipal political arena. I also hope to one day have a family that I can raise, right at the foot of America’s Mountain. I also hope to finish visiting every National Park and Monument by 2022 (my 30th birthday) and to visit every state in the Union (only 25 left). As a native Springsian, I am most at home when out in nature and love the many parks and opens spaces Colorado Springs has to offer, with the Pikes Peak Greenway Trail being my favorite place to ride, and Monument Valley park being my favorite place to swim and go running. I love reading about local, American, and presidential history, ancient myths, and cultures, but also love the fiction writers Ray Bradburry and Neil Geiman. I also am a proud “pet-parent” of my 18-year-old calico named Kanga Roo, and a one-year-old Guinea Pig named Olivia Benson.