Kiera Kelly has been mentoring Marquita Fisher for six years! – first at Cabrini Green Tutoring Program, and, for the last four years, at Cabrini Connections. She is originally from Evanston, Illinois, so she has lived in the Chicagoland area for most of her life. She likes Evanston because it is economically and racially diverse which provided her with a “real-life snapshot” growing up. In Evanston, there is only one public high school – it’s good and it’s huge – but it brings lots of different people together.
Kiera went on to attend University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied political science and international relations. She took advantage of many opportunities including an internship with future U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, an internship with global public relations (PR) firm Edelman, and she was an exchange student in France for a year. And so began her love affair with world travel…
Kiera took a year off after school to travel around South America and Europe. She has lived in Argentina; she went to Peru, the Amazon; she stayed with shamans (spiritual messengers); she is going to Paris next week; and (my favorite) she studied endangered monkeys in Panama and lived in the jungle for a month and a half. She has really done it all!
Why does she like to travel so much? “I love to go to places that are most different from my normal life… Some places you feel like you’re on Mars… You’re really out of your element… It forces you to take a different perspective… to turn your perspective on its head.”
Things calmed down for Kiera, though, as she started her own business and family. She started her own PR firm which was “intimidating at first, but at the same time liberating, and at the same time a lot of work.” She describes good PR as “the ability to position a story, study, or product into a newsworthy package for the media.” She helps her clients get into the news, get credibility in a third party article, and sometimes obtain advertising. With all of her expertise, perhaps Kiera can help disseminate a newsworthy package about Cabrini Connections! As for the family, Kiera has a 2 ½-year-old child and an 8-month-old baby. “I am loving every minute of it!”
One could argue that Kiera actually has three kids, the third being her mentee Marquita. “We have a deep bond,” she says. “We have done everything together.” They have been to every part of Chicago, late night places doing homework, running around town getting supplies for school projects, museums, shopping, the beach, you name it! In fact, her tip for new mentors is to meet off-site. She says the different types of environments inspire different types of conversations an provide and opportunity to laugh and have fun.
Kiera says Marquita is “so full of life and just sparkles” and “she’s really challenged herself in the last couple years… I admire and respect her for that.” Thank you, Kiera, for establishing a deep bond with Marquita. We look forward to watching her graduate from high school and head to college!